Union Ministry of Shipping has chalked out a plan to raise Rs 1-lakh crore to develop ports, build ships and improve inland waterways. The amount would be raised in the dollar equivalent at an interest of three per cent. Union Minister of Shipping Nitin Gadkari told Business Standard: “The loan will be raised by state-run Shipping Corporation of India, Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (which has annual revenue of Rs 5,000 crore in dollar equivalent). If the loan was raised in India, the interest rate would be 12-13 per cent.” Also, state-run ports and shipping companies can raise loans in dollar up to Rs 1-lakh crore, without hedging them. Gadkari also said his ministry is planning to set up Ports Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation to fund ports and shipping infrastructure in dollars. “Inland waterways, ports and shipping are on the top of the agenda. The Centre is keen to modernise large ports.” The ministry has already taken decisions to develop six ports, including Rs 12,000 crore deep-water Sagar port in West Bengal, Colachel in Tamil Nadu, Rs 6,000 crore Vadhavan port in Maharashtra, and Rs 1,200 crore Haldia dock 2. Gadkari said his ministry had decided that ports would be developed with 20 meter draft. “'The handling capacity will be more and the ports do not have to annually spend money on dredging.
A port with 20 meter draft will also help increase revenues. At present, JNPT has to spend Rs 400 crore annually on dredging,'' he noted. Gadkari, who is also the Union roads minister, reiterated his ministry’s plans to launch projects worth Rs 3.5-lakh crore in the next six months. He said pension funds across the world will be invited soon to organise finances for the road projects worth Rs 1-lakh crore.