Reversing its globally recognized identity as a place of world's largest ship breaking yard, the state of Gujarat is now seen emerging with huge investments pouring in to give a complete makeover to its image from a hub of ship breaking industry to the hub for global shipbuilding industry.

The coming decades would witness Gujarat emerging as one of the most sought after places in the world for the shipbuilding industry. It is evident from the recent trends seen in the shipbuilding sector, that Alang, which was known for its ship breaking activities, is now being overshadowed by the places like Dahej, Navlakhi, Mandvi and Bhavnagar where the shipbuilding activity has started flourishing with flying colors. The Gujarat government has been proactively putting efforts in developing a cluster based development of shipyards under Marine Shipbuilding Park (MSP) along the coastal region.

However, Alang, being a world renowned ship breaking yard located in Bhavnagar District of the state on western coast of the Gulf of Cambay, has contributed significantly to not only the state industries but also to the industries on national sphere. The scrap churned out from the dismantling of a ship is supplied to various industries located throughout the country. The latest data shows that in 2009, Alang produced 8000 tonnes of scrap material every day.

Since, its inception in 1982, Alang ship breaking yard has so far recycled 35.61 million of light displacement tonnage (LDT). In the financial year, 2008-09 the yard recycled 1.94 million LDT. During 2009-10, the yard had dismantled 255 ships up to November 2009 against a total of 264 ships dismantled during 2008-09. With this, Alang ship breaking yard had crossed the milestone of dismantling 5,000 ships before the end of 2009.

Alang yard had recycled a record number of 348 ships in 1997, 347 ships in 1998 and 361 ships in 1999. Besides this, Alang also has a distinction of getting the world's largest crude oil carrier in its yard for dismantling. Mont the largest ship ever scrapped in the country, had reached Alang yard in December 2009. The ship had about 87,500 LDT and costing a minimum of Rs.61.69 crore, with international price of each LDT ranging between USD 150 and USD 175.

In spite of having a unique recognition to its kitty as global hub for ship breaking industry, Gujarat has rather emphasized more on shipbuilding industry in recent times focusing on the investment inflow in this sector.

Gujarat has six shipbuilding yards into operations at different locations. Today, the state has achieved a remarkable level of success in comparatively newer shipbuilding industry, where it boasts of having a share of 47% of India's total ship building order book with about 4 million Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT) order book.

Many companies from across the country and abroad have shown their interest in becoming a part of the growth story of Gujarat's shipbuilding sector. According to the Gujarat Maritime Board's (GMB) database, presently, three shipbuilding yards are under construction and eight are under the process of approval from the authorities. The state maritime regulatory agency, GMB has envisaged thirteen more notable shipbuilding projects in the state with an envisaged investment of Rs.15000 crore from the prominent players in the field. Some of the notable shipping companies including, ABG Shipyard, Dolphin Offshore Enterprises (India), AFCONS Infrastructure, Bharati Shipyard, Jindal Shipyard and Pipavav Shipyard etc have shown interest to spearhead the growth of Gujarat's shipbuilding sector.

Looking at the longest coastline Gujarat has, the state government is mulling to expand the shipbuilding bases across the coastline by adopting a cluster-based development plan. GMB is planning to develop Marine Shipbuilding Park (MSP) within a stretch of 5 to 8 km along the waterfronts of Gujarat coasts. The proposed marine ship building parks include Mahua, Jafrabad, Pipavav, Ghogha, and Dahej besides parts in Kutchh.

A shipbuilding cluster at Dahej is being developed as 'Dahej Shipbuilding Cluster'. According to government officials, Dahej will emerge as a global maritime destination, with perspective on skills, expertise and know-how as an ideal location for maritime research and development. The government officials also hinted at development of several other potential capital intensive projects at multiple locations in Gujarat. These projects are expected to come up by companies like, Pipavav Shipyard Ltd, Bharti Construction and Marine Ltd, ABG Shipyard, Affcon Infrastructure, Modest Infrastructure etc.

Besides being recognized as a hub for shipbuilding industry, Gujarat is also place set to emerge as a potential hub for shipping and logistics activities of the country. The state has about 1600 km long coastline, representing a third of country's water front.

Having one major port, Kandla with annual cargo handling of 722.25 lakh tonnes (2008-09) and 41 minor and intermediate ports, Gujarat has its shipping and logistics industry spread across the coastline of the state. Of these 41 minor and intermediate ports, 14 ports are stationed in Southern part, 23 in Saurasthra region and four in Kutchh region. Country's one of the largest major ports, Kandla is located in Kutchh. The cargo handling at Kandla grew 11.30% during 2008-09 from the previous year.

However, minor and intermediate ports in the state have almost doubled the cargo volumes handled by Kandla. During 2008-09, the intermediate and minor ports of Gujarat handled a total cargo of 1528.14 lakh tonnes up by 3.53% from 1475.98 lakh tonnes in 2007-08.

In a bid to develop key sectors through private sector participation, the Union government had adopted a liberalization policy, which Gujarat has been very proactively following. The government of Gujarat has formulated a port policy in December - 1995 to fulfill the requirement of import/export demand. As per the Port Policy, GMB has identified 10 green field sites for development as direct berthing deep-water ports, of which four will be developed by GMB and public-private partnership, while rest of them will be exclusively developed from private sector investment.

The two all-weather, direct berthing and deep sea ports, Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd at Pipavav in Saurashtra region and the Gujarat Adani Port Ltd at Mundra in Kutchh hold the respectable recognition for being the country's first green field ports developed in participation of private sector.

Historically, Gujarat had trade relations with many countries through its ports. Archeologists have also discovered ruins of port towns dating as back as 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. Now with new millennium showing a new trend of trade and investments, Gujarat is once again all set to mark its importance on the global map through its thriving shipping as well as shipbuilding industry. The state is, thus, unique in its identity from other coastal states in India as Gujarat not only harbors ships but also garners ship makers from across the world.

This is the 3rd of 7 articles from the Gujarat Golden Jubilee Celebrations Series by CommodityOnline

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