New Delhi: At least 12 smart cities and several coastal economic zones will come up under the ambitious Sagarmala project, lifting India's GDP growth by 2 percent, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said.
"Sagarmala project which is a priority project for Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been designed in a fashion that it will see at least 12 smart cities at India's major ports besides special economic zones (SEZs)," Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari told reporters here.
Cabinet yesterday gave 'in-principle' nod to the project, aimed at port-led development in coastal states.
Terming the decision as "revolutionary and historical" Gadkari said: "This project alone will boost India's GDP by 2 percent. An allocation of Rs 4,000 crore has been made for SEZ at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, which is one of 12 major ports in India, under the Sagarmala project, while coastal economic zone is in the offing at Kandla port which has two lakh acres of land in its possession."
Besides smart cities, which will have affordable housing, wind & solar power and green industry, 1,208 islands have been identified for development to attract tourists, he said, adding that 189 light houses are also part of the project.
As a step towards comprehensive and integrated planning for 'Sagarmala', Gadkari said a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the entire coastline will be prepared within six months which will identify potential geographical regions to be called Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs).
He said the initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development - supporting and enabling Port-led development through appropriate policy and institutional intervention; port infrastructure enhancement including modernisation and setting up of new ports; and efficient evacuation to and from hinterland.
Besides enhancing port capacity, the project will boost export-import as well as domestic trade.
"At present Indian ports handle more than 90 per cent of India's total EXIM trade volume but the current proportion of merchandise trade in GDP is only 42 per cent whereas in Germany and European Union, it is 75 per cent and 70 per cent respectively," he said.
Earlier, Gadkari had said that each of the 12 smart cities will be built at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore.
Funds required in 2015-16 for implementation of projects in the initial phase of Sagarmala is pegged at Rs 692 crore.
The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
The Prime Minister had earlier stressed on the need for shifting focus from port development to 'port-led development' model to maximise gains.