Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wakeup call for major ports

Port Wings Editorial, Nov 19, 2014


India has 12 major ports, controlled by the Union Government and about 200 non-major ports, developed by private players in agreement with respective state governments.
Cargo traffic, which was 911.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2012 is expected to reach 1,758 MMT by 2017. The Indian ports and shipping industry plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce.
India, with a coastline of about 7,517 km, is currently ranks 16th among maritime countries. According to the Ministry of Shipping, around 95 per cent of India's trade by volume and 70 per cent by value takes place through maritime transport.
India lies in geographical proximity to important shipping routes which gives a natural advantage to the country's shipping. Moreover, shipping is no longer an isolated mode of transport but forms a part of an intermodal transport chain linking other transport modes.
Well, these are the statistics we Indians keep boasting on year after year. But we never bothered to know how these ports, both major and non-major ports, have grown over the years.
While the Centre-controlled major ports, which are located in equidistant on both east and west coasts, have lost so much ground to non-major ports, which were developed near those major ports, over the years.
While these major ports have enjoyed total support from the trade, various rules and regulations pertaining to port developments and tariff imposed by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) have literally strangulated their growth.

On the other-hand, non-major ports, which have grown with the blessings of state governments and strong investors, taken the centre-stage of late and a few of them even surpassed other major ports in handling more cargo volume.

The message is clear. Major ports have to wake up and face the challenge thrown at them by the non-major ports.

The Shipping Ministry seems to grasp the impending danger or challenge for survival. The Ministry has proposed a new Act and if the proposed legislation is enacted, both the existing Indian Ports Act, 1908, as well as Major Ports Act, 1963, will stand repealed.

In other words, the new act could give some kind of leverage to the major ports to take swift decisions and capitalize on the emerging trend of Exim business.
The boxing ring is ready and spectators (read investors) are betting on them. On one side, non-major ports, with full support of private players, are standing fully prepared. On the other, major ports are standing frail and ill-equipped. Now decide who will win the match.
Good Luck Major Ports...

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