Bangalore: Cargo volumes at the dozen ports controlled by the Union government grew by 3.11% in the first half of this fiscal, held back by declining shipments of iron ore and finished fertilizers but gathering pace from 2010-11.
Between April and September, the 12 ports loaded 279.73 million tonnes (mt) of cargo such as crude oil, petroleum products, iron ore, coal, containers and fertilizers, compared with the 271.29 mt of cargo handled in the same period last year, show data compiled by the Indian Ports Association, a body representing the 12 ports.
In the same year-ago period, volumes grew 1.23% over the first half of 2009-10.
A file photo of an ariel view, from a crane, of containers being off loaded from a ship to a truck and being taken to a warehouse at a port
In the full year to March 2011, the 12 ports handled 569.90 mt of cargo, up 1.57%, accounting for some 67% of India’s merchandise trade shipped through ports.
A 12.31% decline in iron ore shipments to 31.59 mt and a 39.46% drop in finished fertilizer loadings to 4.5 mt slowed overall growth this year.
Iron ore shipments from India have been hit by a Supreme Court ban on mining of the steel-making commodity in Bellary, Hospet, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka, India’s second largest iron ore producer, because of irregularities that have harmed the environment in these places.
The state government, on its part, has banned the export of iron ore.
Thermal coal shipments that rose 21.99% to 24.6 mt helped growth.
In the first six months of this fiscal, the 12 ports loaded 3.88 million standard containers, up from 3.72 million a year earlier, rising 4.31%.
Gujarat’s Kandla port remained the top cargo handler by volume with 41.56 mt, followed by Visakhapatnam with 36 mt.
The outlook for cargo growth over the medium- to long-term remains positive, based on the level of activities in key end-user industries, wrote K. Ravichandran and Anjan Ghosh at credit rating firm Icra Ltd in a 27 September note on the Indian port sector.
“Most of the expected traffic growth in India is largely based on domestic demand drivers that are fundamentally stronger and more stable, compared with international trade-related demand, which is a function of global conditions, and may be volatile and uncertain,” the duo wrote in the report.
“Going forward, growth of traffic at Indian ports is expected to be driven mainly by higher volumes of coal (to meet the requirements of the large number of current and proposed thermal power projects based on imported coal); containers (given the market under-penetration and potential for cost savings); crude oil, petroleum, oil and lubricants (large upcoming refinery capacity); fertilizers (strong domestic demand and low self-sufficiency); and steel (mega projects proposed in the eastern part of the country),” the Icra report said.