India’s Bold Plan: Six Mega Ports Along the Coast by 2047
The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways recently unveiled ambitious blueprints for constructing six massive coastal ports by 2047, aligning with the Maritime India Vision. This policy highlights India’s expanding economic and strategic interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), signaling a significant step towards bolstering maritime capabilities.
India’s Coastal Advantage and Port Infrastructure Stretching across 7,517 kilometers from Gujarat to West Bengal, India boasts a substantial natural coastline. Furthermore, it possesses an extensive exclusive economic zone spanning over 2 million square kilometers in the IOR. Currently, the nation’s ports can handle a cargo capacity of over 1500 million metric tonnes, underlining its pivotal role in regional and global trade.
Cluster-based Approach to Mega Port Development The policy emphasizes the identification of six port clusters, aiming for substantial capacities to meet future demands:
- Four clusters are set to exceed a minimum capacity of 300 million tonnes (MT).
- Two clusters are targeted to surpass a minimum capacity of 500 MT. This approach involves substantial participation from both public and private sectors in developing infrastructure projects on a large scale.
Core Objectives Driving the Policy The policy is strategically designed to achieve several key objectives:
- Facilitate the expansion of global maritime trade beyond 2047.
- Foster regional growth and connectivity, particularly under the ‘Act East’ initiative.
- Assert strategic control over ports to safeguard India’s national interests in the IOR.
- Enhance the capabilities of existing major ports through the development of auxiliary infrastructure with the involvement of private stakeholders.
- Implement technological advancements to maximize operational efficiency.
- Increase the cargo handling capacity by an expected 600 MT through ongoing projects.
Linking Port Development with Strategic Diplomacy The integration of port clusters with India’s ‘Act East’ policies underscores the nation’s commitment to fostering closer ties with ASEAN and East Asian economies. This strategic move not only enhances India’s capacity to handle increased global shipping traffic but also aligns with broader geopolitical aspirations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Countering China’s Ambitions India’s endeavor to bolster its maritime infrastructure comes in response to China’s assertive initiatives like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Belt and Road Initiative, which aim to strengthen its influence over Indo-Pacific trade networks and waterways. By pursuing similar ideas that promote national interests, India aims to assert itself as a key player in the region and counterbalance China’s ambitions effectively.