Sagar mala is an initiative floated by the Government of India to evolve a model of port led development which will transform India’s coastline as gateways of India’s prosperity. The concept of Sagar mala was first announced in 2003. However it didn’t take off. The concept has been reintroduced in 2014 and the Ministry of Shipping is the nodal point for implementing the project. (In Hindi, Sagar refers to Ocean and mala refers to garland /necklace)
The initiative aims at integrating three things-the development of ports, industrial clusters and hinterland and efficient evacuation systems through road, rail, inland and coastal waterways. The Sagar mala initiative, therefore, focuses on
- Modernisation of port infrastructure- transforming the existing ports to world class ports and development of new ports;
- Efficient evacuation system by improving hinterland linkages through rail, road and water; and
- Encouraging coastal economic development by promoting port based SEZs and ancillary industries.
To realise the objectives of Sagar Mala, two broad strategies have been outlined: development of coastal economic regions and promotion of coastal shipping.
A coastal economic region will be identified as a region along the length of the state’s coast (300-500 km) and 10-30 km inland and into the sea. This is to widen the span of economic activity in the region. Sagar mala envisages formation of ten coastal economic regions along the coastline.
Policy initiatives are also outlined for encouragement of coastal shipping by provision of green channel, incentives for use and simplification of procedures.
Sagar mala initiative would encourage coastal shipping and inland waterways as main carriers of people and goods which is very essential to improve India’s sea borne traffic. With a coastline of 7,500 km, India’s seaborne traffic is only 950 million tonnes whereas China has a seaborne traffic of 9 billion tonnes with a coastline of 15,000km.
The National Perspective Plan detailing the contours of Sagarmala was released on 14 April 2016.
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi gave its ‘in-principle’ approval for the concept and institutional framework of Sagarmala Project on 25 March 2015.A National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) is envisaged for overall policy guidance and high level coordination, and to review various aspects of planning and implementation under the chairmanship of the Minister of Shipping, with Cabinet Ministers from stakeholder Ministries and Chief Ministers/Ministers incharge of ports of maritime states as members. Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee (SCSC) will be constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary and with Secretaries of the respective stakeholder Ministries as members to provide coordination between various ministries, state governments and agencies connected with implementation and review the progress of implementation of the National Perspective Plan, Detailed Master Plans and projects. This Committee will also examine financing options available for the funding of projects, the possibility of public-private partnership in project financing/construction/ operation. At the Central level, Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) will be set up under the Companies Act, 1956 to assist the State level/zone level Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), as well as SPVs to be set up by the ports, with equity support for implementation of projects to be undertaken by them.
SDC will identify port-led development projects and assist the project SPVs in project development and structuring activities, bidding out projects for private sector participation, putting in place suitable risk management measures for strategic projects cutting across multiple States / Regions and obtaining requisite approvals and clearance. Since the identified projects will be undertaken by multiple agencies, SDC will also work as the nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of all the currently identified projects as well as other projects emerging from the master plans or other sources. SDC will also undertake the preparation of the detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs).
The Union Cabinet on 20 July 2016 approved the incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company (SDC). SDC is to be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, with an initial Authorized Share Capital of Rs. 1,000 Crore and a Subscribed Share Capital of Rs. 90 Crore. The same was incorporated on 1 September 2016. SDC will be under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping.