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SOURCE: AFI

Once abuzz with the clang of metal and the hum of activity, Gujarat’s shipbuilding industry finds itself adrift in troubled waters. From over 8,000 workers wielding torches and shaping steel, now fewer cast long shadows in the yards. Six out of ten shipyards, including the mighty Pipavav, once India’s biggest, have surrendered to the tides of financial woes and industry downturn.

But amidst the echoing emptiness, glimmers of hope flicker. The state government, determined to steer the sector back to prosperous shores, is casting a wider net. To lure new players, it’s revising its shipbuilding policy and actively inviting fresh investments.

Gujarat’s shipyards, in their heyday, were titans of the sea. They possessed the muscle to craft behemoths like bulk carriers, oil tankers, and even naval vessels. At their peak, they held aloft nearly 60% of India’s shipbuilding orders, a testament to their prowess.

However, rough economic seas and financial storms proved too challenging for some. Major shipyards, weighed down by debt and market slumps, foundered and sank. Now, only four shipyards remain, echoing the silence of their fallen comrades.

Yet, like a resilient ship battling a tempest, the government refuses to give up. Proposals worth ?5,200 crore ($730 million) for new shipyards have already reached their desks, painting a picture of possible revival. Officials, undeterred by the past, are cautiously optimistic about a turnaround.

The revised shipbuilding policy aims to be a life raft, offering smoother waters and clearer navigation for potential investors. Simplification of procedures, tax benefits, and infrastructure upgrades are some of the proposed enticements.

Whether the industry can truly rise again, only time will tell. But Gujarat’s determination to chart a new course, coupled with the promise of fresh investments, suggests that the dream of a resurgent shipbuilding sector may not be entirely lost. The ghost ships of the past might yet be joined by a new fleet, sailing Gujarat back to its rightful place as a leader in India’s maritime journey.