To pursue the vision of ‘Blue Economy’ for India, the flagship ‘Sagarmala’ programme aims to increase port-led development along India’s 7,500-kilometre-long coastline.
- The idea was originally mooted by the Atal Behari Vajpayee (NDA 1) government in 2003.
- Sagarmala project is seen as an equivalent of the project named ‘Golden Quadrilateral’, a highway network that connects many of the major agricultural, industrial, and cultural centres in India.
- The project was launched in March 2015 by the Ministry of Shipping. It promises to be a major game changer in the time to come.
- It aims to unravel the full potential of India’s coastline and waterways through investments in logistics and other coastal infrastructure.
- Through these investments and asset upgradation, Indian economy will receive a significant boost. It will also lead to creation of jobs for youth in the coastal region of the country.
- It is to be noted that the construction of new ports, modernisation of existing ports, and the process of connectivity of ports, along with the development of coastal economic zones, industrial clusters and smart cities are an integral part of Sagarmala initiative which comprises over 400 projects.
- Rs 8 trillion as investment would be required for the 20-years period for the Sagarmala project.
- Sagarmala project involves a total of 199 projects for implementation by 2020, while 239 similar projects are under various stages of implementation and development for the future. This conveys in volumes about the speed and dedication with which the Sagarmala project is being executed by the Government. But we must share the credit for it to the Sagarmala Development Company which has been established to ensure that the project faces no glitches in implementation and development stage.
- It is estimated that on completion, the Sagarmala project would reduce logistic costs leading to savings of around Rs 350-400 billion per annum. It would also benefit the country’s export-import trade and industries that thrive upon EXIM trade.
- India had not yet fully exploited its full coastline to its best economic interests. The reasons include lack of modern facilities at our ports, absence of adequate rail and road connectivity, and of course, the non-linkage of industrial base with ports. This had hit India’s ability to place itself in the ranks of developed countries like China, the US, Singapore and Malaysia who have fully utilised the potential of their coastline. Through the Sagarmala mega project, India wishes to address these inadequacies, besides boosting the country’s merchandise exports to USD 110 billion by 2025.
- Given that this mega project incorporates construction of coastal economic zones (CEZs), industrial clusters and other ancillaries, expectations of earning billions of dollars of money cannot be merely imaginary. It may be noted here that China with its CEZs in Shenzhen has helped the city grow its GDP by 50 times to USD $180 billion since 1978. It has also helped in creating jobs of about seven million there. Hence, India too aspires for replicating this growth story here by developing 14 CEZs across all 13 coastal states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal would be states where CEZs will be developed).
- Interestingly, these CEZs will be linked with a total of 29 industrial clusters in the region and beyond (two refinery and petrochemicals, four gas-based petrochemicals, three coastal power, two steel, two marine, two cement, two food processing, two science and technology clusters, three apparel, one automotive, three leather and footwear and three furniture clusters).
- By establishing these CEZ units closer to ports, the government wishes to reduce the logistical costs which will will increase competitiveness of Indian goods abroad.
It is obvious that an investment of about Rs 850-900 billion would be required for the development of infrastructure along the coastline. Overall, the project is in synchronicity with the contention of many experts that, only ports can drive India’s economic growth. Since without skilled manpower, the mega project cannot meet its desired objective, it is indispensable for the government to start focussing on skills training especially for the youth in the coastal districts (in trades like manufacturing, logistics, fishing and tourism). The Sagarmala project is one which really conjures up to Prime Minister Modi’s vision of building India as a powerful ‘blue economy’.
Here is a mind map to quickly know about everything about Sagarmala for UPSC preparation: