New Delhi, March 9: India's maiden global investors conclave for the shipping sector, the Maritime India Summit, to be opened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mumbai next month, has lined up business agreements worth an impressive Rs.72,000 crore (over $12 bn), the government said on Wednesday.
"Maritime India Summit 2016 will power innovation and investment in the maritime sector. In two years, the impact of work in roadways, waterways, ports will boost national GDP by at least 2 percent," Shipping and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters here.
The three-day summit, to be held at the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 14, will have leading shipbuilding nation South Korea as partner country and is being organised to create awareness of India's untapped potential in the sector.
Chief ministers of all 13 coastal states have been invited to the summit and those of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have confirmed their participation, Gadkari said.
Speaking of the shipping sector potential, he said the ministry has targeted "the creation of 40 lakh direct employment in the next five years and 60 lakh indirect employment".
"One hurdle in boosting Indian manufacturing sector is the logistics cost around 18 percent, compared to 8-10 percent in China and 10-12 percent in European countries. If inland waterways and ports are developed and we bring down logistics costs by 5 percent, exports from the country will double," he said.
In support of waterways, he said its transportation cost per tonne kilometer is between 15 to 20 paise, while for railways, it is Rs.1.50 and works out at Rs.2.50 by road.
Central to the government's port-led development policy is the Sagarmala project to connect all the country's coastal citiesthrough road, rail, ports and airports through a special development package. The project is designed to enhance the unique identities of coastal cities in consonance with their seaside culture.
At least 12 smart cities and several coastal economic zones are proposed to be set up under Sagarmala.
The minister also said that the 12 major ports and the three flagship organisations under the shipping ministry have made operating profits for the first time.
These 15 organisations have for the first time made a combined profit of more than Rs.6,000 crore, said Gadkari.
Industry chambers FICCI and CII are partners to the Maritime India Summit 2016, and the ministry of external affairs is assisting in inviting foreign participants, he added.