By Pankaj Kumar I.A.S. VC & CEO, GMB
Gujarat Maritime Board (India's first maritime board) was set up in 1982 with a broad mandate to regulate, operate and promote ports. Today, Gujarat has transformed itself as the maritime gateway of India. GMB, an incubator of innovations, has come a long way from traditional port operations through its multiple port models
GMB: the early years
GMB did not meet success overnight. It struggled to find its feet and get its act together. Also, the large-scale investments in port capacity and infrastructure had not taken place then. In spite of this, Gujarat's ports had begun to make a difference; from a minor share of 41% in 1980-81, to a dominant share of 72% of total non-major ports throughput by 2010-11.
Major privatisation happened after 1991-92 with the state government deciding to develop Pipavav as a joint sector port with private participation. The Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) Policy and Ship Building Policy were also announced. Gujarat's success would not have been possible but for the far-sighted policies announced by the state from time to time.
Careful planning and execution has ensured that the capacity of Gujarat's ports corresponds to the rise in traffic – since 2001, GMB ports have more than doubled their capacity from 135 million tons to 284 million tons in 2011.
Gujarat - Building India's edge
With high growth predicted, shipbuilding is a promising industry for Gujarat, which has an ancient legacy of shipbuilding. History has turned a full circle and shipbuilding is in the limelight once again. The total shipbuilding capacity of 10 operational shipyards in Gujarat is nearly 1.11 million DWT. At present, Gujarat enjoys more than 60% share in the Indian shipbuilding industry. According to the Maritime Agenda 2010-20, the national target is to capture 5% of the global market. Gujarat aims not just to maintain but also to expand its contribution to this target.
Port Cities, Greenfield ports and port based SEZs
With investments to the tune of 12,000 Cr., Gujarat is planning to have Mundra and Pipapav as port cities. Sites have been identified for having Greenfield ports at Chhara, Kachchigadh, and Dahej. Port development has also been planned at Mahuva, Nargol and Vansi Borsi. These sites have attracted investments worth 8,400 Cr. in the first phase. Almost half of 60 SEZs planned and 9 of the 13 existing SIRs in Gujarat are port based.
Multimodal transport and logistics
Ports, to be successful, must have excellent connectivity in terms of rail and road. GMB has taken the lead in privatisation of rail linkages through SPVs with the state, private port players and railways. This model has made broad-gauge rail connectivity possible at ports of Mundra, Dahej, Pipavav Navlakhi, Bhavnagar and Okha.
Northern India constitutes most part of the hinterland for GMB ports and to ensure seamless, uninterrupted and efficient multimodal transport connectivity, focus is on integrating the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) – 38% of which passes through Gujarat – and National Highways, with the roads leading to the ports in Gujarat.
Realising the need for specialised terminals, instead of the multi-purpose berths, GMB has proposed specialised facilities. The country's first dedicated chemical terminal was set up at Dahej in 2001, followed by the country's 1st two-operational LNG terminals, at Dahej in 2004 and in 2005, at Hazira. Single Point Moorings (SPMs) for import of crude and export of Petroleum Oil & Lubricant (POL) have also been created at Sikka, which houses the world's largest grass-root refinery. Another feather in the cap is the establishment of a dedicated car terminal and a coal terminal at Mundra.
Staying true to its vision of establishing a Ro-Ro ferry service to leverage the coastline and the two gulfs, GMB has initiated steps towards launching South Asia's first world-class Ro-Ro ferry service. South Gujarat and Saurashtra regions are to be linked by allowing vehicles and passengers to get on-board, thereby saving time, fuel and help in clearing congested road arteries. This would be an initiative towards a greener environment along with a significant reduction in distance.
Vessel Traffic Monitoring System
Various measures for enhancing port security via adoption of latest scanning, surveillance technologies etc., have been taken up on a priority basis as security is crucial to ports. In August 2010, to ensure safe navigation, the country's most advanced Vessel Traffic and Management System (VTMS) was made operational in the Gulf of Khambat, which was facing heavy traffic due to new ports. A similar system is being constructed in the Gulf of Kutch.
With such rapid development driven by growth of cargo and fleet sizes, global demand for seafarers is expected to grow considerably by 2020. India's share of seafaring officers in the world is just 6% – mainly due to lack of awareness among youth about opportunities available in this sector.
GMB, committed to the development of the sector, has tied up with Gujarat University, Ahmedabad and Ganpat University, Mehsana for introduction of maritime related courses with specialisation in Ports, Shipping and Marine subjects at UG and PG levels.
Speaking of the future, Maritime Agenda 2020 estimates that by 2019-2020, non-major ports will overtake the major ports both in terms of capacity and traffic handled. Gujarat's ports are expected to continue bearing a dominant position in the sector in the next decade and GMB will continue to do its utmost to participate and facilitate the upcoming surge in India's global maritime ambitions.
The article is originally published at The GUJARAT, Magazine