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Ports: An Infra Push to Propel Growth

Ports: An Infra Push to Propel Growth

India’s major ports celebrate 25 years of PPP operations. On the lines of this operational mode, the Government highlights public-private partnership and new-technologies as the way ahead for India’s port sector. EPC World writes…

Maritime transport plays a crucial role in the socio-economic and political development of a country. According to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways about 95 per cent of India’s trading activities by volume and around 70 per cent by value is handled through maritime transport. Rich with its natural coastline, India has 13 major ports and 205 minor and intermediated ports. With numerous infra-development projects being planned and pipelined, the port sector is expected to flourish and scale up its operational potentials.

Sector Roundup

According to an official statement released by the Government, the country’s major port sector has posted an impressive growth of about 7 (6.94) per cent in traffic movement during FY21-22 as against the corresponding period a year ago. The country’s five major ports set a new benchmark by recording their highest ever traffic during FY21-22. A total of 105 million tonnes of cargo was transported by the Inland Waterways Authority of India, thereby registering an increase of 25.61 per cent y-o-y. The statement further added, “The average turnaround time for container vessels at major ports improved to 26.58 hours in 2021 as against 43.44 hours in 2014.”

As per the figures disclosed by the Ministry of Shipping, the private ports have also succeeded to register a competitive growth figure. For instance, Mundra Port handled cargo volumes of 150 MMT in 2021-22. Adani Ports and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones (APSEZ) ports had a combined volume 300 mmt in the same period. The major ports posted a combined cargo traffic of over 700 MMT in the year.

A recent report by IBEF suggests that the capacity addition at Indian ports will grow at a CAGR of 5-6 per cent till 2022 – ultimately adding 275-325 MT of capacity. The sector owing to its vivid economic potentials is a favorite in attracting foreign investments. The IBEF report indicates that during the period between April 2000 and June 2021, the sector received a cumulative FDI inflow of worth US$ 1.63 billion.

PPP Model: The Way Ahead

Celebrating 25 years of public-private partnerships (PPP) in major port projects and operations, the Government upholds PPP as the sector’s success model. Furthermore, the Government has also clearly maintained its keen inclination towards Greenfield projects. “We must look at the PPP model for this that will also ease up government resources for Greenfield port development. This will comprehensively develop the coastal regions of India for ease of living for people living in these areas and, at the same time, helps businesses avail best services through ease,” commented Sonowal.

The initiatives were further highlighted during the recently held Maritime Public-Private Partnership Enclave 2022, jointly organized by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and Mumbai Port Authority (MbPA). Addressing during the event, the, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Shripad Yesso Naik said, “PPP projects in the ports sector are of great significance in making Indian ports more competitive and thereby strengthening India's position in international trade. As we embark on a new era of economic resurgence, bolstered by port-led development, we look forward to streamlining initiatives to promote private participation. To further benefit private players, the government grants concessions to promote transshipment and coastal shipping and allow the concessionaires at major ports to set tariffs as per market dynamics providing a level-playing field.”

Expressing his views on the same during the occasion JNPA Chairman Sanjay Sethi opined, “Through various new interconnected transportation infrastructures and private sector investments, India has demonstrated potential growth in the sector and is beginning to attract global attention. We are the nation's blue economy and need to identify, initiate and complete projects for modernization and mechanization. This will augment port capacity and improve functional efficiency.”

Rajiv Jalota, the MbPA Chairman during his address to media mentioned, “There has been a steady increase in the contribution of BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) projects to cargo traffic in major ports. As of May 2022 as many as 34 projects worth Rs 27,000 crore were operational under PPP model, adding to 350 MTPA capacity, he said. Besides, 25 projects worth over Rs 14,000 crore are under implementation and 50 additional projects worth Rs 27,500 crore have been identified for offer under PPP.”

Growth Initiatives

However, despite its innumerable growth potentials the sector still has to withstand numerous challenges like lack of skilled labor, availability of high-end technologies as against its foreign counterparts and also the hurdles in meeting timelines of project execution.

Aiming to set the growth agenda for the sector, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways recently held a three-day meeting named ‘Chintan Baithak’. The initiative focused to earmark and draw in plans to execute the much needed infra opportunities to propel the country’s port sector. As per the Government sources focus on developing and improving infrastructure facilities especially establishing seamless rail-road connectivity will fast-track and scale up the country’s maritime activities to its new heights. The Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal during the meet has asked the authorities to make a plan for mega ports by 2047. Along with capacity building, he also suggested major ports draft land policy guidelines and explore the potential of building presence out of their limits.

An official statement released by the government highlighted the emphasis being laid upon boosting the rail-road-waterways development for the effective implementation of the much discussed PM Gati Shakti National Multi Modal Connectivity Plan. “A Master Plan to enable ports to identify and resolve bottlenecks in multi-modal connectivity is the need of the hour. A total of 157 road connectivity projects and 137 rail connectivity projects are being undertaken for promoting multimodal connectivity at Ports,” informed Sonowal.

The meeting also draw light upon another growth focused initiative of establishing a zero waiting timeline at ports across the country. Emphasizing on the same during the meeting the Minister informed, “There should be zero waiting time for inbound and outbound cargo. This means there should be zero waiting of ships as well as for trucks carrying cargo.”

And to achieve this the Ministry aims to embrace and open its doors for implementing new cutting-edge innovative technologies to ease in the operations. As per an official statement released, “A presentation on steps to be taken to compete with private/non-major ports talked about increasing competitiveness in the port sector and the positioning of major ports versus the non-major ports in India. Application of various cutting-edge technologies such as drone surveillance, internet of things, artificial intelligence, etc. can significantly improve operations at Indian ports.”

With infrastructure being the center stage of development activities, giving the much needed ‘Infra-Push’ has become the growth strategy to propel India’s port sector.




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