Context: While launching the Ghogha-Hazira ferry earlier this week, Indian PM spoke about the upcoming maritime cluster at GIFT City in Gujarat.

Maritime Cluster project

  • It is an agglomeration of firms, institutions, and businesses in the maritime sector that are geographically located close to each other.
  • The concept of maritime cluster is new to India, but these clusters have been driving some of the most competitive ports of the world like Rotterdam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Oslo, Shanghai, and London.

Need for a maritime cluster in Gujarat

  • This current project will try to bring back businesses that have migrated over the years to foreign locations due to the absence of the right ecosystem in the country.
    • Landlocked countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg have developed a number of maritime services that are not currently available in India.
  • Advantage of ports:
    • Gujarat has a lot of ports and handles 40 per cent of the country’s cargo, but we have not targeted the entire value-chain.
    • For instance, Adani Group has the biggest port in Gujarat, but for their chartering needs, they are based out of Dubai. Similarly, JM Baxi have their port facilities in Gujarat, but they operate out of Mumbai for their chartering needs.

Cluster at GIFT City in Gandhinagar, Gujarat

  • Background:
    • While the project was conceptualised back in 2007, it received in-principle approval from the state government only in 2015. 
    • A high-level committee was also formed to pilot this project.
  • Structure: 
    • The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), a nodal agency of the Gujarat government, has been trying to develop such a cluster at GIFT City in the state capital Gandhinagar through its subsidiary Gujarat Ports Infrastructure and Development Company Ltd (GPIDCL).
  • Details: This cluster will initially consist of Gujarat-based shipping lines, freight forwarders, shipping agents, bunker suppliers, stevedores, and ship brokers with chartering requirements.
  • Stages
    • In the second stage, the cluster would attempt to bring Indian ship owners, ship operators, Indian charterers and technical consultants scattered in cities like Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi to Gujarat. 
    • Thereafter it would target to attract global players in the maritime sphere.
  • Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre:
    • An Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre will also be set up under the aegis of the Gujarat Maritime University, which will come up at the maritime cluster.
    • This centre in Gujarat will provide an option to Indian players seeking to avoid availing the services of international alternate dispute resolution hubs which entail huge costs, time, and travel.