The government is setting up a Sagar Mala Development Authority to channel budgetary support and implement the several projects under the Sagar Mala project, according to Shatrughan Sinha, union minister for shipping.
The Rs 1,09,000 crore (Rs 1,090 billion) project is expected to infuse new life into the neglected sectors of the maritime industry - the inland waterways, coastal shipping and ship-building and repairs sectors.
The development of the first two will vitalise ship-building and repair activities too, by creating demand for more vessels.
According to shipping ministry sources, coastal shipping will be accorded infrastructure status and a Coastal Shipping Development Authority will be set up to provide soft loans.
Sinha said the investments for the Sagar Mala project is estimated to exceed even the Rs 1 lakh crore (Rs billion) and would rope in private public participation for the project.
The prime minister had announced the Sagar Mala project on the Independence Day 2003 which focused on the capacity expansion and modernisation of ports along the west and east coasts of India.
The project also envisages inter-port connectivity to augment coastal shipping to reduce transaction cost. Sinha was speaking at the first conference on "oil and gas shipping" organised by the Indian School of Petroleum.
The ministry is also evaluating a policy for single point moorings. This comes in view of the growing imports of crude oil in the country.
SPMs are used to evacuate crude from the ship anchored in highseas to the nearest landfall point.
DJ Joseph, secretary, ministry of shipping, government of India said "we are evaluating whether SPM s should be within the purview of the port." India imports over 70 per cent of its crude requirements. Approximately over 30 million tonnes of petroleum products are imported annually.
In his speech, the minister pointed out that with imporved shipping lines and aggressive marketing strategies of PSU refineries, the products were being brought under foreign vessels which is a matter of concern.