Sagarmala: Enabling Port-led Development Of India

Harnessing coasts and tapping maritime opportunities are core to Sagarmala that is making monumental efforts towards port-led development.


India is richly endowed with maritime. Recognising the huge potential in the sector, the government has launched a project called Sagarmala. The main objective of this flagship programme of the Ministry of Shipping is to promote port-led development in the country through harnessing India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.

Sagarmala programme was conferred SKOCH Order-of-Merit and an award in the Platinum category in infrastructure sector.

Four Pillars

The Sagarmala Programme hinges on four pillars, namely, Port Modernisation, Port Connectivity, Port-linked Industrialisation and Coastal Community Development. The programme aims to double the share of domestic waterways (inland & coastal) in the modal mix, generate logistic cost savings of R35,000 to 40,000 crore per annum, boost merchandise exports by $110 billion and enable creation of 1 crore new jobs, including 40 lakh direct jobs, in the next 10-years.

Rs. 8.7 lakh crore project

Under Sagarmala programme, 576 projects with an estimated project cost of Rs.8.7 lakh crore have been identified for implementation over the next 20-years. Development would be done across areas of port modernisation and new port development, enhancing connectivity of ports, industrialisation linked to ports and coastal community development. Out of 576 projects identified, 69 projects worth over Rs.13,500 crore have already been completed, another 424 projects worth over Rs.4.1 lakh crore are under various stages of implementation and development. Around 97 projects worth over Rs.38,000 crore are expected to be completed this year.

Coastal Community

Sagarmala Programme is aimed at the development of coastal communities. With 42 per cent of India’s population living in the coastal states, this programme can make a positive impact on the lives of more than 500 million people. Furthermore, this programme would have large impact on hinterland states, through the development of 111 inland waterways. Jal Marg Vikas Project is expected to benefit densely populated states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal through the development of national waterways-1. With large focus on port led industrial development, this programme aims to create 1 crore jobs in the next 10 years.

Sagarmala programme has enabled developmental work across port and port linked infrastructure to take place in a coordinated manner with fixed roadmap in place for all identified projects. Policy support, funding and grant support along with strict governance and monitoring has enabled project completion at rapid pace while enhancing the co-ordination among different agencies.


Multiple cruise tourism centers have been launched including in Mumbai, Chennai and Cochin. These would provide a significant boost to the tourism industry in India. Furthermore, multiple policy initiatives, schemes and guidelines have provided significant boost to the coastal shipping industry. These policy initiatives include ROFR policy for ship making, revision of guidelines for model concessionaire agreement, changes to major port trust act, new waterways act identifying 111 inland waterways, expansion of the coastal berth scheme for further financial assistance to key infrastructure development, relaxation of cabotage for 5 years for specialised vessels and reduction in cost at ports, for the promotion of coastal cargo.

Indian ports handle more than 90 per cent of India’s total EXIM trade volume. Sagarmala project is critical to boost India’s exports and imports. The proportion of India’s international trade as a proportion of GDP is amongst the lowest in the world. The proportion of merchandise trade in India’s GDP is 42 per cent. For European Union, it is 70 per cent. For Germany it is 75 per cent. There is a great scope to increase the share of merchandising trade in India’s GDP.

India lags far behind in ports and logistics infrastructure. Against a share of 9 per cent of railways and 6 per cent of roads in the GDP, the share of ports is only 1 per cent. In addition, high logistics costs make Indian exports uncompetitive. Sagarmala project is set to enable port-led development in India.

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