The state government has unveiled a draft maritime policy with the help of global analytical company CRISIL and paved the way for discussion and argument on it. The policy, which will be made public soon, has various aspects of maritime development and trade via inland waterways. Jagan Narayan Padmanabhan, the director – infrastructure advisory, CRISIL presented the salient features of the draft policy. Principal Secretary, state transport department Alapan Banerjee, chief executive officer (CEO) of state maritime board, P Kamla Kanth was also present there in the conclave named ‘West Bengal – a new frontier of maritime development’ where the draft policy was been unveiled. “We will take the opinion on the draft policy,” Kamla Kanth said.
As per the draft policy, the state with a coast line and shore line of 158 kms has been operating two river based dock systems in Kolkata and Haldia. Those two docks have been maintained by Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), which has been supporting its operations with dredging subsidies given by the Centre. However, the Centre and the state government is now mulling over constructing Bhor Sagar Port off the shore of Bay of Bengal. The deep sea port will be considered in the future, but now the matter is stuck within various unanswered questions. West Bengal has now identified a new spot at Tajpur in East Midnapore district, centering which it wants to boost industry, trade, tourism and employment in the state. There will be an investment of around Rs 16,000 crore at Tajpur with 10,000 direct job generation. Nine berths will be constructed. The road connectivity to the port will consist only 7km of national highway. So state has to prepare lane connectivity for the state highway which is connecting national highway. The state will need to take up the matter with the railways to provide rail connectivity.
While CRISIL has set the detailed project report, it has not made any firm cargo projection. But it has reviewed and calculated a rate of return on the basis of West Bengal’s projected economic growth at 12 per cent CAGR, a state industry department official said. “Looking at the economical growth, we can make three more ports back to back,” said state commerce and industry minister Amit Mitra.
Mitra, however, said that nobody had showed any interest or proposal as yet for participating in the Tajpur port project. But the state was not looking at Tajpur port as standalone project but it was looking at the possibilities of giving the thrust of industrialisation for entire maritime sector.