09 Dec 2019  |   05:19am IST

Looking at ways to help barge owners in Goa: Gupta

The Sagarmala project which is one of India’s biggest projects is an amalgamation of various projects categorised into port-connectivity, freight expressways, new pipelines for transporting crude and petroleum products, development of prioritised inland waterways, new multi-modal logistics hubs and coastal community development. VIKANT SAHAY met with the managing director and director (Projects) of Sagarmala, Dilip Kumar Gupta to understand how Goa will be benefitted by this project
Looking at ways to help barge owners in Goa: Gupta


HERALD: Can you let us know the details of the Sagarmala project?

DILIP KUMAR GUPTA: Sagarmala is a programme under the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India. It has four major pillars. The first being on how to enhance the port’s capacity whether it is a green-field or a brown-field port. The modernisation of a port can be done either by increasing its capacity or by reducing the turn-around time of a ship.  

The second pillar would be the last mile connectivity. For example if there is a port and if the evacuation from the port is not taking place due to poor road and railway network then the government steps in to build that last mile connectivity to make the port more viable and business friendly. 

The third is the port-led industrialisation which is one of the biggest schemes of the Government of India in which we are looking forward to having several coastal economic zones along our 7500 kilometre long coastal land. This will be industrial belt where a land parcel of something around 2000-3000 acre land will be developed by the various State governments and the Sagarmala Development Company Limited together and then later it will be given to the industry. The fourth one is the coastal community development. 

HERALD:  When was this project launched and what is the estimated cost of this project? 

DKG: So all these four activities whether it was envisaged in 2015 an investment perspective plan has been made for Sagarmala in which the cost estimate was put to Rs eight lakh crore for the completion of the entire project. Out of this 8 lakh crore almost 2.5 lakh crore has been invested till now. The figure is going up and the major task of the government is on how to involve and bring-in private investment. I am happy to say that private sector is coming in a big way and out of this Rs 2.5 lakh crore which has been invested, government has channelised and given boost and most of the money is coming from the private sector. This includes development of ports, road and railway line construction etc. 

HERALD: What is the purpose for this project?

DKG: The purpose of this programme is that we should not be too dependent on road or rail for freight transfer. Traditionally, we have had trade all through navigation and this involves cost benefits too. Why should we not use our good coastal line to navigate our freight? The whole purpose is to reduce the cost of logistics. Our Prime Minister’s vision is that by the year 2025 we should be able to save Rs 35,000 crore in the logistic cost which will ultimately make the product cost cheaper. This can be passed on to the consumers or one can become more competitive in the export market.

HERALD: How is Goa going to be benefitted by this Sagarmala project?

DKG: We are very much interested in Goa and we have been interacting with the industries in Goa. There are few proposals which we have received from the State of Goa. There are nine jetties which are under construction in Goa through this Sagarmala project with the help of Captain of Ports. In fact there will be more jetties to be constructed in the near future. As of now the environmental impact study is undergoing and once that is cleared then the money will come and the projects will set rolling. Goa has a tremendous potential in bringing in bulk cement, bauxite. We are also now looking into the financial proposals and if it turns out to be good we will create jetties, silos and packaging plant. 

HERALD: How would you manage the handling of the products being transported, keeping environment protection in mind?

DKG: Transportation is one part of the logistics but we will also have to see the handling part. If the product is in powder form the loading and unloading can be done with a help of pump pipes which will be neat and without spillage or affect on the environment. This could lead to giving a boost to the barge industry which at the moment is facing a rough patch after the closure of mines in Goa. 

HERALD: Barge Owners Association of Goa have approached you for help. What are their demands?

DKG: In fact the Barge Owners Association of Goa has approached me in want of business. I have assured them that in Gujarat there is one of the biggest manufacturing industry and they are producing two thousand boxes in a 20 feet container everyday on the road. If this Barge Owners Association can give us a good financial proposal, I can help them as a catalyst for their growth in business in the Western Coast. Obviously, the role of Director General Shipping will also come into play on this. Once they become a part of the coastal movement then there are many rebates which the government is offering in the coastal movement. 

Another proposal which came up during the CII meet on logistics in Goa was that whether Sagarmala can finance barge up-gradation. The chairperson of IWAI has suggested by saying they cannot give them a grant but something like loan giving can be thought of. All such demands from the Barges Owner Association will require financial papers to be presented before the IWAI. If it happens then it will help wake up the barge industry from slumber and will also help generate employment and ultimately will help Goa. So Goa needs to give us a good proposal in concurrence with the state government. 


Idhar Udhar