Two coastal economic zones will be created at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore as part of the Sagarmala project in Andhra Pradesh, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday.
Addressing the Partnership Summit, he said both the zones -- one covering Srikakulam to Vijayawada and the other from Vijayawada to Nellore -- will come under Visakhapatnam-Chennai industrial corridor.
He said the commerce ministry was planning 14 coastal economic zones in the country as part of the ambitious Sagarmala project, which will create direct employment for 40 lakh people and indirect employment for 60 lakh.
"This is an ambitious project in which Rs.15 lakh crore investment is expected. Out of this, Rs 4 lakh crore will be in port modernization, mechanization and port road and port rail connectivity," he said.
He pointed out that providing highway and rail connectivity to these zones would be the responsibility of his ministry while the state government will have to provide land, power and other infrastructure.
A Port Rail Connectivity Corporation has already been formed and work has started. The ministry plans to start railway work worth over Rs 1 lakh crore before the end of the five-year term of the government.
Stating that port-led development is important for double-digit growth, he said priority was being given to the sector.
The minister said the government has also decided to give the highest priority to waterways to bring down the cost of transportation. The project will cover 111 rivers in the country.
National Waterway 4 or Buckingham Canal (1,095-km long) will be developed in Andhra Pradesh and will connect Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. He announced that work on Buckingham canal in Andhra Pradesh will begin after the assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
The cost of this joint venture project between the state and central governments is Rs 2,000 crore.
A subsidiary company will be created which will be merged with Visakhapatnam Port as the idea is to use the profits of this port for Buckingham canal.
He said last year all major ports and flagship organisations -- Cochin Shipyard, Shipping Corporation of India and Dredging Corporation of India -- made a profit of Rs 6,000 crore and this year the profit is expected to be Rs 7,000 crore.
Gadkari said Rs 7,000 crore was being invested in Visakhapatnam port, which is the second largest port in the country.
According to the minister, a Rs 1,665 crore project was already completed while work is on for a Rs 2,702 crore project. Within three months, the ministry will award a Rs 1,200 crore project.
The minister announced that work on the Amaravati-Anantapur highway will start as soon as possible.
He also promised to start work on the Raipur-Visakhapatnam highway suggested by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
This 750 km long highway will cost Rs 5,000 crore and it is expected to connect Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.