Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of maritime activity and the use of waterways

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ro-Pax terminal at Hazira and flagged off the Ro-Pax ferry service between Hazira and Ghogha in Gujarat through video conferencing on Sunday.

The service is set to boost business activity in the region by providing faster connectivity between Surat and Saurashtra and reducing travel time from 12 hours to just four hours.

Pointing out that this will also reduce transport expenses, PM Modi said about 80,000 passenger trains and 30,000 trucks will be able to take advantage of this new service in a year.

Lauding Gujarat for the manner in which it had realized its maritime potential in the past two decades, the Prime Minister referred to initiatives like drafting a Shipbuilding Policy, construction of Shipbuilding Park and Specialized Terminals, and promotion of the Vessel Traffic Management system. Efforts were made to modernize the entire ecosystem of the coastal area in addition to developing the physical infrastructure, he said.

Noting that the ports of Gujarat had emerged as major maritime centers of the country, he pointed out that the state accounted for more than 40 percent of the country's total maritime trade last year.

Referring to the importance of maritime activity, the Prime Minister said that the capacity of the ports across India had been increased. Construction of new ports was also going on at a faster pace, he said.

Prime Minister Modi said that efforts were being made for the maximum use of about 21,000 km of waterways in the country. Under the Sagarmala project, work was underway on over 500 projects across the country. Projects had been taken up along inland rivers to connect many land-locked states to the sea.

India was developing its capabilities in the Indian Ocean through the Bay of Bengal in an unprecedented manner. Maritime activities had emerged as an important part of AtmaNirbhar Bharat, he added.

Pointing to the need to make the maritime logistics stronger to strengthen the Blue Economy's stake in AtmaNirbhar Bharat, he expressed concern that the cost of carrying goods from one part of the country to another was more than in other countries.

The cost of logistics can be reduced by water transport, he said, adding that the focus should be to create an ecosystem where there can be seamless movement of cargo.

Listing the work that was in progress in this regard, PM Modi said efforts had been made to improve connectivity between road, rail, air and shipping infrastructure. While Multimodal Logistics Parks were being constructed, multimodal connectivity was being developed with the neighbouring countries as well, he pointed out.

During the event, PM Modi announced the renaming of the Ministry of Shipping to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

The Prime Minister also had an appeal for the people during the festive season and urged them to go Vocal for Local by making purchases from small traders, small artisans and rural folks.