Bangalore: Cargo volumes at India’s dozen state-owned ports grew 5.56% in 2009-10, faster than the 2.13% rise in the previous year, as the global economy recovers from a slowdown.
In the year to 31 March, these 12 ports handled 560 million tonnes (mt) of cargo such as crude oil, petroleum products, iron ore, coal, containers and fertilizers, according to A. Janardhana Rao, managing director of the Indian Ports Association, a body representing the 12 ports.
In fiscal 2009, the 12 ports handled 530.37 mt of cargo.
The 12 ports are located at Kolkata, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Ennore, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Kandla, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Together, they handle one-third of India’s external trade shipped by sea.
Trade movement: The 12 state-owned ports together handle one-third of India’s external trade shipped by sea. Ashesh Shah/Mint
For the third year in a row, Kandla port retained the tag of India’s biggest cargo handler by volume. The port, located in Gujarat, handled 79.49 mt of cargo, up from 72.22 mt in the previous year.
The cargo handled by the 12 ports is close to its combined capacity of 576 mt.
The lack of adequate capacity is hurting India’s trade.
India’s maritime trade lost more than Rs1,400 crore a year due to a lack of navigable depth and specialized berths for quick handling of cargo, leading to congestion of ships and entailing extra costs for exporters and importers, according to a recent performance audit of the 12 ports by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
The shipping ministry recently admitted that port capacity addition projected for the five years to March 2012 would fall short of the target by around 40%.
India had planned to double the cargo handling capacity of the 12 ports to 1,016 mt by 2012 as economic growth strains existing facilities.
The additional 440 mt capacity would require an investment of close to Rs55,804 crore, of which Rs36, 868 crore is expected to come from the private sector. The performance audit by CAG revealed that the capacity addition programme was hit by delays at various stages.