In the pre-Independence era, all the sea routes were controlled by the British, however, Scindia Steam Navigation on 05th April 1919 commissioned the first Indian owned ship “SS Loyalty” for the maiden voyage from Mumbai to London.
The day of 05 April is marked each year as India’s National Maritime Day since 1964 to celebrate this event. Indian shipping has come a long way since Independence and accounts for about 9 per cent global seafarer professionals. About fifty percent of the global oil passes through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
“Coastal Communities and Merchant Guilds across time and regions of the sub-continent have defied proscriptions to cross the seas and earn rich treasure to Venture Capital enterprises, funded interestingly by temple treasuries.
The Sovereign was just an enabler. Shipbuilding itself has been a superior skill set of the otherwise subaltern coastal communities along the Indian Coast,” former spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt (retd) DK Sharma, tells Financial Express Online.
History records maritime connectivity from pre-historic Gujarat to Mesopotamia, Arabia and East Africa. The Kalingans’ harnessed the monsoons to launch maritime voyages to Bali and most of SouthEast Asia. The Chola influence, mercantile, cultural and naval reached Far East Asia.
Project Sagarmala for Maritime Infrastructure
Project Sagarmala has been culled out from the National Perspective Plan (NPP) launched in 2016 for infrastructure, coastal berth, fisheries harbours and skill development projects, and the projects are under various stages of implementation by Central Ministries, State Governments, and Port Agencies etc.
“The cargo traffic at Indian ports is expected to be approximately 2500 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonne per Annum), whereas the current cargo handling capacity of Indian ports is only 1500 MMTPA. The roadmap charted to enhance the Indian port capacity to more than 3300 MMTPA by 2025 to meet the growing demands.
About 506 projects in various States and Union Territories have been identified and are being monitored by the Minister of State in consultation with State Maritime Boards and State Governments. Another Project Unnati to improve the Operational Efficiency has been also launched to improve the efficiency and productivity for 12 major ports.
Project Unnati has about 116 schemes at all the twelve major ports,” Milind Kulshreshtha, Strategic Analyst and C4I expert, tells Financial Express Online.