PORTS Make ’em vibrant

 

India’s vast 7,500-km coastline is dotted with a dozen major ports, about 200 notified non-major ports in nine maritime states and Union Territories out of which only 61 non­major ports, including those in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are reported to have handled cargo traf­fic. The crying need of the major ports is organisational restructuring to transform them into viable busi­ness entities. Among the major ports, only Ennore has been constituted under the Companies Act, while the rest are administered and governed by the provisions of the Major Port Trusts Act 1963.

In maritime states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, port assets are transferred to the respec­tive Maritime Boards. Individual port facilities are either controlled by the board or leased out to port operating companies for terms rang­ing from 20-99 years. The port trust boards have miserably failed in build­ing infrastructure; ports have lost their momentum to promote international trade.

No wonder, the relatively new private ports are lording over the sea. Adani Ports at Mundra in Gujarat crossed the cargo mile­stone of 100 million tonnes (mt) in 2013-14 in just 20 years, whereas Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, which were declared major ports in 1870, 1873 and 1881 respec­tively, could handle only 41, 59 and 51 mt respectively in the same year. Kandla, declared a major port in 1954, could handle only 87 mt in 2013-14. Ennore, which was declared a major port in 1992, handled 27 mt in 2013-14. Ennore’s stellar perfor­mance shows the importance of corporatisation.

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), which encompasses three container terminals including DP World’s Nhava Sheva Inter­national Container Terminal
(NSICT) and Jawaharlal Nehru Con­tainer Terminal (JNCT), accounts for roughly 60 per cent of total contai­nerised cargo moving via India’s 12 state-owned major ports and around 40 per cent of the nation’s overall containerised ocean trade. JNPT has handled 63.80 mt of cargo in 2014-15, as compared to 62.33 mt during the previous year. “JNPT had been focus­sing more on capacity building. Lots of plans which were in the pipeline have now come to the final stage,” says Neeraj Bansal, chairman, Jawa­harlal Nehru Port Trust. “A 330m extension jetty will be partially com­missioned by May 2015 and fully commissioned by March 2016 and will improve the throughput by 1 million TEU. Another ambitious proj­ect of the JNPT is the fourth port ter­minal which will come up with the assistance of the port of Singapore. The mega project is being looked at for doubling the port capacity in seven years. The commissioning of the Dolphin mooring is expected to increase liquid cargo in the port’s throughput to 1 million TEU.”

Besides increasing capacity, JNPT is focussed on internal efficiency and becoming an international port.

“The port is looking at all parameters – effi­ciency, productivity,

 

throughput, economy and creating more value for all the EXIM trade,” adds Bansal. “There will be dynamic, vibrant port activity at JNPT.”

Plans in the pipeline According to Indian Ports Association (IPA) data, the traffic handled at 12 major ports in the country has seen a modest increase during 2014-15, with pub­lic sector ports clocking 581.3 mt, a rise of 4.65 per cent. A number of initiatives, including capacity aug­mentation, taken by the government helped the sector to achieve this. Among the top performers, Kandla Port handled the highest, at 92.49 mt cargo in 2014-15, followed by Par- adip Port (71.01 mt) and JNPT (63.8 mt), Visakhapatnam Port (58 mt), Mumbai Port (61.66 mt), and Chen­nai (52.54 mt). These ports had han­dled 545.79 mt cargo in 2012-13 and 560.13 mt in 2011-12, while the cor­responding figure stood at 596.03 mt in 2010-11.

Kandla Port’s figures seem extremely high because it han­dles a large quantity of oil, which is imported. The oil is offloaded at a single buoy mooring some distance I away, and then brought on to land I by an undersea pipeline which feeds I in to the main pipeline. Excluding I oils, it is not such a big port.

In its pursuit to become I world class, JNPT is also looking I for new locations. Efforts are I being made to identify spot: I for new natural ports having I a draught of 20 metres. By tht I end of 2017, jnpt’s mega plarl of a ‘Central parking plaza’ orB 45 hectares of land, a custom* bound area which contain* dormitories, shops and foodB for truckers, will be in plac: I Along with NHAI, the port I involved in the construction I an eight-lane evacuation corr -B dor from jnpt to the rest of t: I highways which will ease t: I congestion. Also, almost thre I quarters of the containers I JNPT are handled at the tern-J nals leased out to Dubai Por and Maersk. This strengthe: the case for privatisation!

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