Mulling foreign loans for Sagarmala project: Gadkari

Panaji, Aug 24 (IANS) The Centre is mulling sourcing of foreign loans to fund the ambitious Sagarmala project, union minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said here on Monday.

The project, aimed at streamlining port and transportation logistics, would be offered for equity participation, said the central minister who was in Goa to chair a meeting of the Maritime States Development Council (MSDC).

He also said all stakeholders responsible for maritime security would meet soon and evolve a single norm for coastal security.

“…we also discussed whether we can get foreign loans for the ports in Sagarmala project. Those private partners who are willing to join us, we are willing to offer them equity participation,” he said.

“Our security is very important. Home ministry does it on its own. Our department does it on its own. I have said that all stakeholders involved in this should be brought together and this issue should be discussed so that one procedure could be followed,” the minister said.

“I told the ports, which are earning in dollars, to take loans in dollars for development of the ports. If you take it at 3.5 percent then the internal rate of interest will increase and ports will be developed. So whichever ports earn in dollars, there is no need to hedge it,” Gadkari said.

He also unveiled a vision document for coastal shipping, tourism and regional development.

Gadkari also cited a recent example of the Rs.4,000 crore loan initially sought by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust from a private bank for building an eight-lane road at 12 per cent interest.

The minister said that among the major decisions taken at the meeting were expeditious formation of maritime boards in states which do not have them, approval of a scheme to provide 50 percent of the cost of equipment to mitigate oil pollution, central assistance for jetties, passenger amenities and berths for coastal ships in non-major and private ports.

“Repairs hubs are to be created in major ports and minor ports,” he added.

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