Bengaluru: India’s 12 state-owned ports loaded 4.31% more cargo or 606.37 million tonnes (mt) in the year ended 31 March mainly on account of higher coal shipments.
In 2014-15, the ports of Kandla, Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, VO Chidambaranar, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, Haldia and Kolkata, handled a combined 581.34 mt of cargo.
The 12 ports handle about 55% of India’s external trade by volume shipped by sea.
None of these ports are listed because they are run as trusts.
“The traffic in major ports (state-owned) has shown a healthy growth of more than 4% in the last two years, despite a global slowdown,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a maritime summit in Mumbai on 14 April.
“The operating profit margins (of the 12 ports) which were declining have increased. In 2015-16 alone, the operating profit of the 12 major ports has increased by nearly Rs.6.7 billion rupees (Rs.670 crores),” Modi said.
Strong thermal coal shipments through the 12 ports played a big part in the annual cargo growth.
Thermal coal loadings grew 16.2% to 99.14 mt from 85.34 mt a year earlier as power stations imported more coal, according to data from the Indian Ports Association (IPA), which represents the 12 ports.
During the year, Kandla port located in Gujarat became the first state-owned port and the second in India to handle 100 mt of cargo in a year. For the ninth year in a row, Kandla retained its pole position as India’s biggest state-owned cargo handler by volume, handling 100.1 mt of cargo, 8.17% more than the 92.5 mt handled a year earlier.
Privately run Mundra port, located just 60 km way from Kandla port, and owned by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), is the only other Indian port to handle more than 100 mt of cargo a year. Mundra reached the 100 mt-mark in 2013-14.
Paradip port in Odisha, the second-biggest state-owned port by cargo handled, benefited from the surge in coal shipments, posting an overall growth of 7.57% at 76.39 mt from 71.01 mt a year ago. Paradip loaded 31.787 mt of thermal coal, up from 29.93 mt a year ago.
Higher thermal coal loading helped VO Chidambaranar port located in Tamil Nadu to handle 13.7% more cargo during the year at 36.85 mt from 32.41 mt a year ago. VO Chidambaranar loaded 11.49 mt of thermal coal from 8.61 mt a year earlier.
Mormugao port in Goa posted the highest growth rate among the 12 ports at 41.2% during the year. The port, badly hit by a steep fall in its mainstay iron ore cargo for the last five years after authorities clamped down on illegal mining and banned exports, handled 20.78 mt of cargo from 14.71 mt of cargo a year ago.
Mormugao handled 3.73 mt of thermal coal from 2 mt a year earlier. Mormugao’s growth was also boosted by iron ore shipments of 3.97 mt from 758,000 tonnes a year ago after India’s top court lifted production curbs partially in 2015, enabling exports to resume on a small scale.
Overall iron ore shipments through the 12 ports declined 28.1% to 12.87 mt from 17.91 mt a year ago.
Coking coal shipments through the 12 ports declined by 5% to 30.9 mt from 32.53 mt a year ago.
The 12 state-owned ports handled a combined 8.2 million twenty foot equivalent units or TEUs during the year, an increase of 2.98% from the 7.96 million TEUs handled a year earlier. A TEU is the standard size of a container and a common measure of capacity in the container business.
Jawaharlal Nehru (JN) port, India’s busiest container gateway located near Mumbai, loaded 4.49 million TEUs in the year to March. In fiscal 2015, JN port loaded 4.46 million TEUs.