The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has asked the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways to provide reasons for the delay in the completion of 632 projects under the Sagarmala programme. The report of the panel on “Promotion of Infrastructure in India’s Maritime Sector”, tabled in both the Houses on Wednesday, said only 172 projects out of the 802 sanctioned projects under the Sagarmala Programme have been completed and the remaining 632 projects are under the implementation stage, which is far from being satisfactory.

The panel said the shipping industry in India is subjected to multiple taxes as compared to leading maritime nations due to which shipping companies are not attracted to invest in India. It asked the Ministry to formulate a new tax regime in line with other tax regimes of leading maritime nations.

‘Expedite projects’

The panel asked the Ministry to expedite the projects. “The Committee, therefore, desires to know whether the projects under implementation have witnessed any time overrun and cost escalation as compared to the original cost and timeline of the projects. The Ministry should also mention the precise reasons for delay, if any, port-wise and steps being taken to address such delays,” the report said.

It also found that only a small fraction of funds has been utilised so far from the allocation and said it speaks of very poor planning and fiscal indiscipline. “The Committee would, therefore, like to be apprised of the measures taken for effective and efficient utilisation of sanctioned funds,” the report added.

Dedicated mechanism

It recommended a dedicated mechanism for effective coordination and monitoring of PPP projects for developing of private ports in the country. “Further, ways should be chalked out to link private ports with the major and minor ports of the country in order to cater to the growing requirement for import/export of manufactured goods/ raw materials, immediately after the phase of Covid-19 pandemic is over,” the report said.

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The Committee expressed dismay to note that out of 98 road connectivity projects to ports, only 13 projects have been completed. “Similarly, out of 91 rail connectivity projects, only 28 projects have been completed so far. This speaks of poor coordination between the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and the implementing agencies. The Ministry is extending timelines for execution of these projects instead of emphasising upon their timely and speedy completion,” the report said and recommended a dedicated monitoring mechanism to ensure completion within the approved cost and designated timeline.