In a bid to facilitate private investment in the maritime sector, the Odisha State Cabinet led by Naveen Patnaik approved a new port policy last week.
The state government had formulated a port policy in the year 2004 for private participation in port development.
The decision to replace the 2004 policy was made necessary because the existing policy had become obsolete.
The approval comes a week before the state is set to host its flagship biennial investment summit, the Make in Odisha conclave.
The decision to bring in a new policy of integrated development of non-major ports and inland waterways is a major step as Odisha was among the few coastal states that opposed the Indian Ports Bill 2022.
The draft published in August 2022 has fueled fears among coastal states that the new legislation will dilute powers already vested in states over the management of non-major ports.
Odisha located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal has a vast coastline of 480 kilometers.
There are 14 notified non-major ports in the state, among which the ports of Dhamra and Gopalpur are already operating, while the ports of Astaranga and Subarnarekha Mouth (Kirtania) are currently under construction.
Apart from these, the state government has issued a notification for the establishment of 12 non-major ports in the state with private participation.
Four of the proposed sites are in Balasore, two in Ganjam, Bhadrak and Puri districts and one in Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts.
Apart from this, the process is ongoing for the selection of the developer for the establishment of a river port on the Mahanadi River in Kendrapara district.
The approval follows the constitution of the Odisha Maritime Board (OMB) on August 23, which was tasked with coordinating the activities of non-major ports in the state.
According to the policy, the OMB will prepare a maritime outlook plan of Odisha encompassing the major assets and challenges of maritime development.
The plan will also study the maritime ecosystem involving ports, hinterland potential, cargo evacuation, port connectivity, environmental improvement and development of coastal communities.
This policy aims to help and promote the development of ports and the industrial development carried by ports through the improvement of port link infrastructures.
The aim is to facilitate the promotion of private sector investment in the state’s maritime economy and provide employment opportunities for Odisha’s youth.
The OMB would launch an international tender or sign a memorandum of understanding to attract private investors in the state’s maritime development.
The policy also promotes other maritime ventures such as cabotage, promotion of maritime tourism, development of multi-purpose ports, introduction of seaplane connectivity.
A major feature of the proposed policy relates to the creation of infrastructure for shipbuilding, shipbreaking and related activities in the state.
The policy also proposes to formulate the Odisha Ports Capacity Expansion Plan (OPCAP).
The plan will help identify and improve the cargo handling capabilities of various ports in the state.
The policy also aims to create an ecosystem to improve supply chain efficiency and increase freight generation.
This will be achieved by creating land reserves around the ports for the provision of logistics infrastructure such as free trade and warehousing zone, storage facilities, inland container depot and port infrastructure and of pier.
A dedicated logistics cell will be created to increase the State’s logistics infrastructure.