New Delhi: The government may permit weddings and conferences to take place in Indian territorial waters on board ocean-going vessels, opening up a business opportunity to shipping lines and event organizers.

The plan will be spelt out at the two-day Maritime India Summit (MIS) that will be held next month in Mumbai. The shipping ministry is targeting around Rs.1.2 trillion in investment from the event.

Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said a wide array of investment opportunities and collaborations are expected both at the national and the international level at the event, in which South Korea is the partner-country. Delegates from around 57 maritime nations have been invited.

Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari. Photo: Reuters
Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari. Photo: Reuters

“With such kinds of investments, our shipping sector is going to create 40 lakh (four million) direct and 60 lakh indirect jobs in various port sectors,” Gadkari said. “While direct jobs would come at ports through construction and their operationalization, expansion of existing ports, other avenues would include introduction of tourism activities such as cruises, seaplanes, hovercraft and opening of waters for events such as conference, weddings, etc.,” he said.

The reason why the government is focusing on ports and waterways is to bring down logistic costs and ease railway and road traffic congestion.

The shipping ministry last month received a proposal from a company that wants to operate seaplanes in India’s inland waterways; the ministry plans to allow it after receiving clearance from the aviation regulator. The company would start the service with 25 seaplanes.

According to shipping secretary Rajive Kumar, the government expects to sign around 109 business agreements covering port development, modernization, connectivity, shipbuilding, dredging, inland waterways and new port development.

“It is for the first time that we are coming up with such an event and the focus is now to re-energize Indian ports as they have shown a remarkable performance,” he added.