Shipping ministry looking for alternatives to port corporatisation: Gadkari

Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday said attempts were being made to find alternatives to corporatisation, which was opposed by port employees, for upgrading infrastructure and services, as announced in Budget 2015-16.

“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had told us (in the Budget) about the Companies Act, but we are looking at other alternatives beyond the Companies Act to modernise and develop the ports,” Gadkari told reporters at a Mumbai port trust event. Jaitley had said major ports would be encouraged to come under the Companies Act for better functioning.

Gadkari said his ministry was discussing and seeking guidance from the finance ministry on the alternatives. He did not elaborate. “Basic concept for ports is development and modernisation. We don’t want to privatise ports, nor do we want to give any equity to private people. We want to modernise, protect the interest of labour, protect the interest of ports and, at the same time, improve the services of the ports to improve business and do good profits.”

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating an oil spill response facility for the Mumbai harbour, Gadkari said the 12 major ports would be investing Rs 1,000 crore to set up clean power facilities and reduce reliance on grid power. “The government has sanctioned a 150-Mw plan for green power for ports,” he said, adding generating funds would not be difficult. On the occasion of the World Environment Day, Gadkari also highlighted the need to use recycled water and reiterated his plans to have green smart cities at each port, at an estimated Rs 3,000-4,000 crore a city. “Port water will be recycled. Port waste will be turned into biogas. Vehicles will run on biofuel. Solar energy and wind power will be generated at ports. These cities will be pollution-free and aim at being green smart cities,” Gadkari said.

The 12 major ports together have an estimated 264,000 acres, and these are being mapped through satellites.

Gadkari also said the government had no plans to sell land to builders and private developers. These smart cities would be built according to international standards and would have wide roads, green energy, advanced townships and greenery. The major ports in the country - Kandla, Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Marmugao, New Managlore, Cochin, Chennai, V O Chidambarnar,Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) - handle approximately 61 per cent of cargo traffic.