Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India will invest $82 billion, or over Rs 6 lakh crore, by 2035 in ports as part of the Sagarmala project. The programme is part of the government’s initiative to boost the performance of India’s logistics sector.

“The Sagarmala project for promoting port-led development was announced by the government in 2016,” Modi said at the Maritime India Summit 2021. “As part of the programme, more than 574 projects at a cost of 82 billion US Dollars or Rs 6 lakh crores have been identified for implementation during 2015 to 2035.”

The prime minister said that his government was focused on upgrading the current infrastructure as well as creating next-generation ones. He pointed out that the results of the government’s target were visible.

“The capacity of major ports which was around 870 million tonnes per annum in 2014 has increased to around 1550 million tonnes per annum now,” he said. “This productivity gain not only helps our ports, but also boosts the overall economy by making our products more competitive.”

Modi said Indian ports now have Direct Port Delivery and Direct Port Entry systems as well as an upgraded Port Community System that enables easy data flow. He said that the government was also “heavily investing” in developing storage facilities at the port.

Besides upgrading infrastructure, the prime minister said that the government was also working to enhance connectivity. “We are integrating our ports with coastal economic zones, port-based smart cities and industrial parks,” he said. “This will anchor industrial investments and promote global manufacturing activity near ports.”

Modi informed that mega ports were being developed in Vadhavan in Maharashtra, Paradip in Odisha and Deendayal in Gujarat. He said that the government was aiming to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030. “We would do this through infrastructure enhancement, fairway development, navigational aids and Rivers Information System provisioning,” Modi said. “The Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid for regional connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar will be strengthened to effective regional trade and cooperation.”

He said that 16 waterdomes were being developed to enable sea-plane operations and river cruise terminal infrastructure and jetties were being constructed on five national waterways.

The prime minister said that India has 189 lighthouses and the government was planning to develop tourism in the land next to 78 of them. “The key objective of this initiative is to enhance development of the existing light-houses and its surrounding areas into unique maritime tourism landmarks,” he said. “Steps are also being taken to introduce urban water transport systems in key states and cities such as Kochi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Goa.”

He said that the government does not want maritime development to only take place in silos and for that the Ministry of Shipping was renamed as Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. “The ministry will strive for excellence in maritime shipping and navigation, education and training for the mercantile marine, ship-building and ship-repair industry, ship-breaking, fishing vessels industry and floating craft industry,” Modi said.

He said the ministry has created 400 investable projects that have an investment potential of $31 billion or approximately Rs 2.25 lakh crore.

The prime minister also called upon global investors to be part of the developmental works. “India’s long coastline awaits you,” Modi added. “India’s hardworking people await you. Invest in our ports. Invest in our people. Let India be your preferred trade destination. Let Indian ports be your port of call for trade and commerce.”