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Capacity constraints, low level of mechanisation, low pace of project execution, lack of last mile connectivity, shallow drafts, etc., are the factors that affect cargo handling of the major ports, states Ravi Parmar, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust & Chairman-in-Charge, Kandla Port Trust.
Please tell us about the achievements of the Mumbai Port Trust during the last one year?
Mumbai Port has created a new record in cargo handling, crossing the figure of 61.66 Million Metric Tonne (MMT) in the financial year without straining the city´s busy road and rail infrastructure. Given various constraints faced by the city-located port, the achievement is noteworthy.
The Indira Dock Complex, one of the oldest dock complexes in the country, recorded a spectacular growth of 28.53 per cent in cargo handling this year. The prominent commodities contributing to this spectacular performance of the Indira Dock Complex comprised iron and steel, raw fertilisers, and automobiles.
The port has also created a record by handling export of 1,40,000 automobiles of various brands from its facility this year. The port registered an impressive growth of 37 per cent in automobile export, raising the contribution of the state of Maharashtra in EXIM trade.
How important is the port sector for the growth of the economy? How do you envisage the growth of the sector in the next five years?
Though India is considered the second most attractive logistics market after China, the sector needs to focus on capacity creation, efficiency improvement, and use of private sector investments to bring in funds and best practices. The government is demonstrating renewed vigour in implementing transportation infra¡structure projects across the country. Projects like development of the dedicated rail freight corridors, and port projects are being envisaged and executed at the national level.
Talking specifically about the ports, the Port Authorities are one of the most important stakeholders in the supply logistics chain, whose performance is a key factor in determining the efficiency of the system. In the last decade, the Indian port sector has witnessed certain structural changes, and the state owning the major ports has given way to greater private participation in this sector. Maritime Agenda 2010-2020 has set a target capacity of over 3,130 MT by 2020, largely through private sector participation.
How will the corporatisation benefit Mumbai Port Trust?
Mumbai Port Trust is a comprehensive port. Internationally, challenges faced by comprehensive port model have been met through corporatisation (such as in Singapore), through privatisation (such as in Britain), and in many of the European countries like Italy, Netherlands, and in USA through the ´Landlord´ model. Whatever be the process, the objective has to be empowerment of the major ports with greater autonomy and flexibility to face the dynamics of competitive local and global market.
Please apprise us of your expansion plans. How will you raise the funds?
While developing infrastructure for cargo handling, we are cautiously taking up projects that would shift the burden from the city´s busy roads and railways to inland waters. To illustrate, the city of Mumbai consumes approximately 1.25 MMT of cement per annum to meet its developmental needs, moved by road or rail and necessitating entry or exit of nearly 350 trucks per day. To decongest the city roads, of cement traffic, the port has resolved to lease 2.5 hectares of its land for 30 years to build a fully automated cement handling terminal. Other capacity addition projects are deepening of anchorage to handle bigger vessels mid-stream, and Floating Storage Re-gasification Unit (FSRU) to meet the liquefied petroleum gas needs of the city. Apart from this, the port is considering projects to set up floatel and floating restaurants, a helipad with landing, parking and allied facilities, and modernisation of International Cruise Terminal at Ballard Pier Extension and the Passenger Terminal at Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf).
What are the reasons for the diversion of cargo from the major ports to the non-major ports?
In 2014-15, the major ports handled about 58 per cent of the country´s trade by volume shipped by sea. This included crude oil, coal, container cargo, fertiliser, all aggregating to 555.50 MT, which was 1.78 per cent more as compared to 545.79 MT of the cargo handled by the major ports in the previous year.
Capacity constraints, low level of mechanisation, low pace of project execution, lack of last mile connectivity, unavailability of specialised berths, shallow drafts, etc., are the factors that affect cargo handling of the major ports. I may mention here that to cope with the burgeoning traffic of international trade, the government has undertaken several initiatives to bring the port sector at par with the global standards. The efforts are underway not only to create additional capacity, but also to increase the efficiency of the existing capacity in the sector.
Can you please tell us about the current capacity of the Mumbai Port Trust? What share will MbPT foresee in this capacity ugmentation by 2020?
Mumbai Port Trust is a traditional, comprehensive port designed to handle bulk cargo. The port, however, has successfully adapted to changing shipping needs and cargo packaging from break bulk to unitisation or palletisation and containerisation. Besides this, it has developed specialised berths for handling POL and chemicals. Presently, the port has 26 cargo berths, including BPS at Indira Dock Complex. It also has four berths for handling POL at JD, two berths for chemicals at PP, passenger-cum-cargo berth at BPX, two berths for ferry ships at new ferry wharf. Its total cargo handling capacity is 49.25 MMT. The port is looking forward to raise its bulk handling capacity through different projects in the pipeline as well as on the design board. The port is also envisaging handling of bigger sized panamax vessels in its anchorage area. The port is equipping itself to handle containerised cargo through its OCT project, execution of which, of course, is delayed for some reasons, but will hopefully be complete soon.
Besides this, the port is concentrating on developing facilities such as deepening or addition of anchorages, developing bunkering facilities, developing FSRU terminal, mechanisation of mid-sea operations by employing floating cranes, etc., which would add to the cargo handling capacity of the port without putting any additional burden of vehicular traffic on the otherwise busy city roads.
What are the key achievements of Kandla Port? How do you envisage the growth of the port in next five years?
In spite of cut throat competition from the non-major ports and at a time when growth of major ports is very low, Kandla Port Trust has handled 92.5 MMT of cargo in 2014-15, and retained its number one position among the major ports for the sixth year in a row.
The port has recorded an increase of 6.3 per cent in cargo throughput, compared to last year. The port´s throughput is impressive, considering the fact that the port utilised 87 per cent of its cargo handling capacity of 106.32 MMT. Apart from liquid cargo, we are also focussed on coal cargo and handled a record 10 MMT of coal in 2014-15. These throughput levels of the port were accomplished, despite idling of liquid storage facility and container terminal at berth No 11 and 12.
It is noteworthy that the per tonne handling cost at the port is one of the lowest in the country. Besides, the port has also commissioned a dry bulk terminal of 15 MMT on PPP mode at Tuna last year. Overcoming all the hurdles, the port has also operationalised about 3.5 lakh KL capacity liquid tank farm, which is likely to result in increase of liquid cargo at the port.
- SUPRIYA ABHIJEET OUNDHAKAR