In order to facilitate the way for port-led industrialization, the Shipping Ministry, in a major developmental initiative, announced (in 2016) that its ambitious Sagarmala Project is going to concentrate on developing furniture clusters near major ports.
Project Sagarmala is a national programme with an aim to accelerate economic development by harnessing the potential of India’s coastline and river network.
In the past 20 years port-led industrialization throughout the world has assisted the manufacturing sector grow and this can be pursued in India too that would, in turn, enable the country to create a significant share in the global furniture market.
It has been pointed out that port and logistics infrastructure has played a decisive role in making China the biggest exporter of furniture by overtaking European Markets, Malaysia is also a furniture exporter having clusters located in close proximity to major ports.
Now Indian Government thinks that the development of port-based furniture clusters will help reduce the overall cost of exports from India and counter the Chinese dominance in the world furniture market as it has been claimed in a draft report on the national perspective plan of Sagarmala Project.
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It was in 2003, that the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee first proposed Project Sagarmala. Its features at that time were:
Setup Sagarmala Development Authority (Similar to National Highway Authority of India); will obtain money via Maritime development cabs (5 paise pr kg on cargo); will improve ports, shipping industry, in land water transport, coastel shipping; and PPP and PDI to collect more investment.
In March, 2015, Union Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, said that the Sagarmala Project, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would create at least 12 Smart Cities and had the potential to increase India’s GDP by 2 per cent. The 12 Smart Cities, it was estimated in 2015, would cost Rs. 12,000 crore each.
It has to be kept in mind that Sagarmala Project was conceived and initiate to facilitate and promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide port and evacuation infrastructure to transport goods to end from ports quickly efficiently and cost-effectively.
Sagarmala Target and Initiative
The Sagarmala Project has come out with a target of providing one crore employment. According to the national perspective plan on Sagarmala Port Project, the Port-led development has got potential for direct employment generation for 40 lakh persons and for 60 lakh persons indirectly.
The Sagarmala Project, in its initiative, has sought to develop a string of ports around India’s cost with an objective to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 75,000 km long coastline.