New Delhi: As many as 1.3 million people are to be trained across India’s 21 coastal districts in trades such as fishing, logistics, manufacturing, and tourism as part of the government’s Sagarmala programme.
Sagarmala is the government’s coastal and port city development plan, which includes preparing the manpower needed for Chinese-style coastal economic zones, where manufacturing units will be set up to generate jobs.
The offer of skills training comes in the backdrop of concerns being expressed on the negative impact of the INR 8,40,000 crore Sagarmala programme on the fishing community.
The ministry of ports and shipping has conducted a survey in 21 coastal districts across 13 states and union territories to roll out the training programme. The project will be executed in two phases. The first phase will cover 21 districts in Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar island and Lakshadweep.
“The 21 districts include two districts from each coastal state and one district from each union territory,” said a government official requesting anonymity. The remaining districts will be covered in the second phase.
The project report has been prepared by consulting firm PwC which has proposed projects on the basis of the skill gap studies in these coastal districts. These projects have been divided into two parts – wage employment and self- employment.
“The ministry is busy in finalizing the final contours of the project after which discussion will be held by the state government and then it will be implemented,” the official added.
The other disciplines for which the training will be imparted include agriculture, banking, financial services and insurance, communication and construction.
“Once the government starts preparing the detailed project reports for the coastal economic zones, these people will be skilled in the meantime so that once the work on projects starts, they start getting employment,” said a second government official aware of the plan who also didn’t wish to be named.
India wants to equip some 500 million people with vocational skills by 2022, but has been largely behind the curve in the past five years. The Sagarmala programme on its part envisages the construction of new ports to harness the country’s 7,517km coastline and set up as many as 142 cargo terminals at major ports.
“The skill development programme is not going to address the unemployment created by the development of coastal zones. However, the development would increase more employment opportunities that would raise standard of living of the fishermen. With the development in area, there would be a holistic development like townships, markets, logistics support, etc.” added the official.
Tahsin Zahid, co-chairman skill development at PHD Chamber of Commerce said, “The government should take a number of the employment generation and trades from the industry and then skill people rather than vice-versa where people have imparted training and then the industry is expected to absorb them.”
Ashok Varma of PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed that their organization has prepared a draft report on the skill development for 21 coastal districts. However, he refused to comment further.
Queries emailed to the spokespersons of ministry of ports and shipping remained unanswered.
The government has been working to help the fishermen improve their earning potential and plans to equip them with deep sea vessels to fish beyond its territorial waters. The government plans to subsidize the purchase of these vessels, which cost around Rs1 crore each. To start with, the government plans to provide 1,000 such vessels to fishermen.
“Skill development in the maritime industry would also be a critical contributor to India’s economy as the maritime sector’s contribution to GDP is likely to increase from the present 1.5% – 2% to ~4 % by 2025. The sector is expected to generate additional employment for 2.5 million persons (0.5 million direct and 2.0 million indirect) by 2020 in the country,” according to a statement from Gujarat Maritime University.
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