Bangalore: Cargo volumes at the 12 state-owned ports grew marginally by 2.13% in the year ended 31 March compared with 12% the previous year, as a worsening global economy tamped down demand.
The 12 ports—located at Kolkata, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Ennore, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Kandla, Mumbai and New Mumbai—together handle some 75% of India’s external trade by volumes shipped by sea.
In fiscal 2009, these ports handled 530.35 million tonnes (mt) of cargo such as crude oil, petroleum products, iron ore, coal, container cargo and fertilizers, according to data compiled by the Indian Ports Association that represents the 12 ports. In the FY08, they had handled 519.15mt of cargo.
“The data shows that Indian ports have started catching up with the rest of the world,” said Shailesh Garg, general manager at the India unit of London-based maritime advisor Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. “The growth rate is below our expectations. We were expecting a growth of at least 5% at these ports.”
Cargo shipped in steel containers recorded a growth of 2.03% at 6.8 million standard containers, up from 6.6 million standard containers a year ago. In FY08, container cargo at these ports grew by 19%.
Container cargo at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s largest container port by volumes that is located at Nhava Sheva near Mumbai, declined 11% to 3.95 million standard containers, from 4.06 million standard containers for FY08.
Among the principal commodities handled at these ports, thermal coal, which is used to fire power plants, grew by 11.18% to 44.02mt from 40mt a year earlier. Coking coal, used in steel plants, jumped 7.13% to 27.13mt from 25.32mt a year ago. Iron ore traffic registered a marginal growth of 2.49% to 94.08mt from 92mt the previous year. The petroleum, oil and lubricants cargo grew by 4.16% to 176mt from 169mt a year ago.
For the second year running, Kandla port in Gujarat remained India’s biggest state-owned port by volumes. It handled 72.22mt, an increase of 11.25% over the previous year. Mormugao recorded the highest growth rate of 19% for the year, mainly due to a big jump in iron ore traffic to 34mt from 27mt a year earlier.
Cargo volumes at five of the 12 ports registered a decline during the year.
The volumes at Kolkata port dropped 5.72% to 54mt from 57.32mt a year earlier. Visakhapatnam registered a drop of 1% to 63.90mt from 64.59mt a year ago.
Traffic at Cochin port declined 3.68% to 15.22mt from 15.81mt a year ago. The biggest drop in volumes was recorded by Mumbai port where cargo slumped 9.05% to 51.87mt from 57.03mt a year earlier. Ennore also showed a marginal decline, while cargo volumes in Chennai remained unchanged from fiscal 2008.