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Government eyes Rs 2,500 crore profit from ports in next 2 years: Nitin Gadkari

New Delhi: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said the Centre is targeting a net profit of Rs 2,500 crore from its 12 major ports in the next two years, while shipping and waterways would contribute at least 1% to the country’s GDP by March 2016.

The Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister said the government is going ahead with the port modernisation programme and his Ministry will seek Cabinet nod on the same as it tries to tackle the opposition by trade unions to corporatisation plan for ports.

Gadkari also said that major ports will add 100 million tonnes capacity by 2018 and have plans to spend about Rs 15,000 crore per annum.

“We have already received a report from expert committee by which we can change the existing law to implement modernisation of ports, increase their efficiency and to make our decision making process fast. We will give more power to port chairman and board and by which I feel that we will achieve the goal of corporatisation,” Gadkari said addressing the media here.

He said the report is ready with the Ministry and “We are going to submit it to the Cabinet. After approval we will implement. Corporatisation is not ruled out (and) it is to be declared by the Finance Minister. It is on the agenda.”

He said there is a stiff resistance from trade unions and some political parties so the government is amending the Major Ports Act but it would be ensured that the interest of workers is not compromised.

“The country’s 12 major ports will add at least Rs 1,000 crore to their net profit in the next two years and add 100 million tonnes of capacity,” the Minister said.

The 12 major ports at present have the cumulative net profit of about Rs 1,500 crore. Secretary Shipping Rajive Kumar said both 12 major ports and about 200 minor ports taken together plan to take their capacity by 2,000 MT by 2018. The present capacity of ports is about 1,400 MT.

Gadkari said massive steps are underway to overhaul the shipping sector as the government plans to make waterways as its focus for transportation of goods and cargo to propel the GDP growth.

“Shipping and Waterways will contribute at least 1% to India’s GDP by March 2016,” Gadkari said adding 104 projects have been started at ports and 7,500 km of coastal area could be instrumental in jacking up the economic growth.

He said steps were under way to reduce the turnaround time for ships to two days from an average of four days to enhance efficiency and all ports have been directed to implement plans matching with best international ports.

“Big ships had to wait for 8 days at Paradip. We had appointed an international agency and average turnaround time will be reduced to two days from four days,” he said.