Steps taken under the National Maritime Agenda will help the sector: Rao

Indian Ports Association (IPA) expects to see normal growth of ports in 2012 despite continuing global economic recession and the April-November period, 2011, providing a grim picture of just 1.33 per cent cargo growth for major ports, says Managing Director A. Janardhana Rao. He told The Hindu that the overall traffic handled by major ports this year was expected to reach 600 million tonnes against 570 million tonnes handled during the previous year.

Container traffic too suffered due to the economic recession and the growth in box movement till November, 2011, was only 3.7 per cent over the previous year.

The effect of the global economic recession has been sharply noticed in ports such as Jawaharlal Nehru Port, where the growth was only 1.2 per cent. But he said India's relative economic buoyancy and other indications pointed to normal growth in cargo movement during the New Year when exports were likely to pick up. According to IPA figures, the growth in cargo throughput at the Ennore port grew 43 per cent in April-November 2011, Kochi 12.28 per cent, Kandla 11.24 per cent and Vishakapatnam 9.05 per cent. Mormugao port, among the 11 major ports, has shown the steepest fall in cargo throughput at 10.66 per cent. Chennai port recorded a negative growth of 8.04 per cent.

The association was a key player in drawing up the National Maritime Agenda. Mr. Rao said that the IPA was happy to see the evolution of certain policy measures under the Maritime Agenda that would help the port sector in the long run. He said though it was difficult to judge the progress made by the Maritime Agenda in a short time, the port sector was in for major advances through the new initiatives.

The Maritime Agenda, which was launched in the first quarter of the current year, was a plan and policy framework for the forthcoming decade, he said. A substantial number of private-public partnership projects in creating more deep draft ports; large-scale mechanisation of cargo operations and establishing better and more effective hinterland connectivity are the key areas which will get immediate attention.

Creation of additional cargo handling capacity was the key to tackling increased volumes at major ports, he said. The ports as well as the Union Government have already chalked out plans to enhance the port capacity from the present 670.13 million tonnes to more than one billion tonnes by the end of the XII Plan.