Nehru Port breaks ground on trade zone, road connector projects

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Nhava Sheva) broke ground Aug. 16 on its long-awaited special economic zone project, a port-based multi-product export processing center that is expected to help India’s largest container gateway boost its export volumes.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the SEZ project, a first-of-its-kind in a major state-owned port complex in the country, in Nhava Sheva on Aug. 16. At the ceremony, which was attended by senior cabinet ministers, port officials and industry representatives, the prime minister also launched construction on a new 27-mile expressway connecting JNPT with the interstate highway system.

“Export promotion was the need of the hour. Until we join manufacturers in export promotion, and unless state and central governments work together, we cannot achieve new heights in exports,” Modi said, speaking at the ceremony.

Officials said a special-purpose company would be set up to implement the 277-hectare industrial site under an “engineering, procurement and construction” scheme. The first phase, involving an investment of about $650 million, is scheduled for completion in three years.

Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, who spoke at the ceremony, said the project will have the potential to create about 150,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The expressway connector project, which was approved by the union government last September, comprises 13 miles of six-lane and 14 miles of eight-lane routes. Work on the $316 million project is targeted for completion by December 2017. “Due to rapid development in the area on account of development of JN Port, JNPT-SEZ and the proposed International Airport, it was felt necessary to augment the carrying capacity of the existing road network,” an official statement said.

The prime minister also stressed the need for development of minor ports by state governments through private participation and announced a special port development plan, named Sagarmala, for maritime states. ”This would envisage not merely port development, but port-led development which would include ports, SEZs; and rail, road, air and waterway connectivity with the hinterland, including linkages of cold storage and warehousing facilities,” Modi said. “Ports can become gateways to India’s prosperity.”

JOC Staff | Aug 17, 2014 9:14PM ED

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