Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed the hope that Kandla port in Gujarat’s Kutch district and Chabahar port in Iran will script a new development cooperation in the region.

Laying the foundation stone for six projects worth a total of ₹966 crore at Kandla, he said the port will be directly linked with Chabahar, making it an important port in Asia, handling both dry and liquid cargo.

He also lauded Union Shipping and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was also present, for his handling of the sector. The new projects are part of the ambitious Sagarmala Project.

Coastal transportation of goods and trade is cheaper than by roads, Modi said, adding that developing ports is necessary for India’s recognition as a global economic power.

Modi recalled how Kutch, through its resilience, regained its feet after the 1998 super-cyclone and 2001 earthquake. Gujarat has had a rich maritime tradition over the past 5,000 years, as depicted by the ancient Lothal port (near Ahmedabad), where a maritime museum is proposed, he added. The Gujarat Assembly has also passed a Bill to set up a maritime university.

Kandla port should be renamed ‘Deendayal Port Trust’, he suggested, as 2017 is the birth centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, founder of Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP.

Sagarmala Project

In his address, Gadkari said the Sagarmala Project envisages the development of 12 major and 20 minor and private ports along India’s 7,500-km-long coastline at an investment of ₹6 lakh crore.

The implementation of 239 projects worth ₹1.37 lakh crore is in progress, including 40 projects worth ₹1 lakh crore in Gujarat alone, he added. A smartcity is also proposed for Kandla, to be developed at an investment of ₹10,000 crore. It will create 10,000 direct jobs and another 40,000 potential jobs.

Besides, he said, the government has decided to allow fishermen’s trawlers to sail deep into the sea up to 30-40 nautical miles, against the current 11 nautical miles, and set up fishermen’s harbours at Veraval and Mangrol in Gujarat.