Emphasising on capacity creation at ports across India, a top government official today said that the country needs ports that can receive bigger vessels.

“The shipyards globally are now building vessels which are very huge and can take advantage on scale and bring down the cost of goods and transport,” K Mohandas, secretary, shipping said in his inaugural address at a conference on ’Port-led Development’ organised by CII and Gujarat Maritime board, here.

“Many vessels now being built (abroad) are 13000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), while the capacity of our ports is maximum of 8000 TEU and that too at few ports,” he said.

He pointed out that port capacity across the country was inadequate. “When we say that capacity utilisation at ports is more than 90-95 per cent —- it means that the ports are inefficient. The ports need to be waiting for ships. Vessels need not be waiting at anchorage point,” he said.

“Port capacity should be adequately developed for efficient and quick reception of vessel and evacuation of cargo”, he added.

The secretary also said that the government wanted India’s share in the ship building sector to go up from one per cent at present to five per cent in the next few years.

“Ship building is an area where India’s share globally is just over per cent. Of course we grew from 0.1 per cent to one per cent over a period of seven years, but one per cent itself is nothing to crave about,” he said.

“We are very ambitious at the government. We would like our share in ship building sector to go up to 5 per cent and we expect Gujarat would contribute a substantial portion of that,” Mohandas added.

He said that ship building industry has a multiplying effect as there was tremendous scope for ancillaries, it could lead to large scale employment and therefore this was one activity where India would like to improve on its share.

Mohandas said that India being a low cost economy, there was no reason why ship building industry could not shift from Asian economic powers like Japan and Korea to India.

Talking about subsidy for ship building sector, he said, “If at all we introduce a subsidy scheme, the level would be much lower. We do expect to introduce some sort of incentive for the shipbuilding industry in the country.”

Speaking about ports in Gujarat, Mohandas said that the ports here handled cargo of 285 million tonnes in 2009-10, while all the ports across the Indian coast put together handled 845 million tonnes which means that Gujarat ports take care of 33.72 per cent of the cargo handled by Indian ports. In 2008-09 the figure was 30.24 per cent. This means that in one year the share of Gujarat has gone up by three per cent,” he said.

The secretary said that Gujarat has well defined policies, backdrops have been analysed, potential have been assessed, and strategies have been worked out.

Mohandas said that Gujarat has the potential to be the chief promoter of coastal shipping in India as the movement from North to the South of country could be facilitated by the state.

“If any thing ought to go from Gujarat to Kerala or any other state in South, the most economical and environmental friendly route is the sea route,” he observed.