New Delhi: Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday that at least one crore jobs will be created under government’s ambitious Sagarmala project in the next four to five years.

The program aims to promote port-led development in the country by harnessing India’s 7,500-km long coastline, 14,500-km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.

“One crore jobs will be created under Sagarmala project only in the shipping and ports sector,” Minister Gadkari said addressing the media after chairing the second National Sagarmala Apex Committee meeting here.

The jobs will include 40 lakh direct and 60 lakh indirect employment, he said. Other participants were Minister of Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar and Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar among others.

The upcoming Maritime India Summit in Mumbai from April 14 to 16 would alone see investments to the tune of Rs two lakh crore in the sector, the Minister said.

“The Summit is being organised to harness India’s immense opportunities in the maritime sector. In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcements that port sector can propel our economic growth, we are making all efforts to exploit its immense potential,” Gadkari said.

Thrust was being laid on developing waterways in the country and ball has been set rolling to tap the potential of 116 rivers across the nation as waterways, he said.

The government’s top priority is to develop waterways and ports to reduce the high logistics cost as it costs Rs 1.5 a km to carry the cargo from road, one rupee from rail while through waterways it reduces to only 25 paise a km, he said.

Government has identified over 150 projects under its ambitious ‘Sagarmala’ initiative, the Minister informed.

Apart from converting 111 rivers into waterways, the agenda includes developing smart cities at major ports, the Minister said adding that the 1,620-km stretch on Haldia-Varanasi on Ganga was being developed and tenders were out for projects worth Rs 4,000 crore.

Also, on the priority is development of coastal areas in 13 states which will benefit lakhs of fishermen, he said informing the government planned low cost housing and other initiatives for them. Development of shipping sector along with highways will contribute at least 2% to India’s GDP, he said.

One crore jobs will be created under Sagarmala project: Nitin Gadkari