The Sagar Mala project is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the Government of India to modernize India’s Ports so that port-led development can be augmented and coastlines can be developed to contribute to India’s growth.

The aim of this Sagar Mala Yojana is to develop port infrastructure in India. It should result in quick, efficient and cost-efficient t0 and for transport from the biggest and busiest ports. This involves linking the rail/ roadways with the ports, thus providing connectivity to ports; development of newer regions along the lines, multiple ways of transport— including railways, inland waterways, coastal roadways etc.

Sagar Mala Project

The former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced the Sagar Mala Project in 2003. After the UPA came to power in 2004, it renamed this project as the National Maritime Development Programme. The project was eventually married because of poor implementation, just like several other projects.

The UPA II launched Maritime Agenda 2010-2020 with the aim of creating a port capacity of around 3200 MT to handle the expected traffic of about 2500 MT by 2020. It includes capacity augmentation, port modernisation, efficient management of shore infrastructure, maintenance of the ports, rail/ road connectivity etc.

Focus of Sagar Mala Project

The Sagar Mala Project, as of today focuses on three main development factors:

  • Efficient Evacuation to and from the hinterland.
  • Supporting and enabling Port-led development.
  • Port Infrastructure enhancement, including modernisation and setting up of new ports.

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Key Activities

  • Port-led industrialisation
  • Port-based urbanisation
  • port-based and coastal tourism and recreational activities
  • Ship-building, ship repairing and recycling
  • Logistics park, warehousing, Maritime zones/ services
  • Integration with hinterland hubs
  • Offshore renewable energy projects with base ports for installations
  • modernising existing ports and developing new ports

Advantages of this Sagar Mala Project

  • Sagarmala, integrated with the development of inland waterways is expected to reduce cost and time for transforming goods, benefiting industries and export/import trade.
  • Simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes the use of electronic channels for information exchange, leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
  • Sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ), community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries and skill development, tourism promotion etc.
  • Setting-up coastal clusters for bulk commodities like coal, cement & steel and providing last-mile connectivity of ports with national highways and railway networks.
  • It will provide a platform for central, state governments and local authorities.

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Important things to know for UPSC Exam

Having said all of this, there are issues coming from the National Fish-workers’ Forum and National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) leadership asserted that such projects were being approved without any thought going into the effects on the fishing community who are settled along the coastline.

The project aims at developing India’s 7500 km long coastline. Modernising, mechanising and computerising areas which remain to be neglected for a long time. The government hopes to increase its cargo traffic three times in the next five years. It will benefit around 14% of our country’s population from at least 13 States and Union Territories.

If the inland waterways programme is included, it will benefit at least 55% of the total population. We can only hope that, like other projects, this too doesn’t die a slow death due to implementation issues and political differences.

UPSC IAS Questions from Sagar Mala Project?

  • What is it?

  • How many states are there in the Sagar Mala project?

  • What is the ultimate aim of the Sagarmala Project?

  • Why is it important?

  • Projects under Sagarmala

  • Initiatives under the Sagarmala Programme to unlock the potential of waterways.

  • What are the components of the program?

  • How is the program being implemented?

  • Why is port-led development crucial?

  • What is the current status of the programme?

  • What are the challenges?

  • Critically examine the issues faced by the Sagarmala Program. What are the measures that can be taken to make use of its potential? (250 words)


Hopefully, this article will give you a brief overview of the Sagar Mala Project. Do prepare your answers for the above mentioned UPSC IAS questions from Sagar Mala Project. For better UPSC exam preparation you can always opt for one-to-one mentorship where you can get expert guidance from expert mentors throughout your exam preparation journey.

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About the Author

Akshay Palande

Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.

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