All major ports will be converted into landlord ports, says official

With National Maritime Agenda 2020 giving thrust to major ports turning into landlord ports, the minor ports are set to continue their efforts to corner major chunk of seaborne cargo.

The nine maritime States in the country are dotted with 187 minor ports whereas 13 major ports, including Kandla and Visakhapatnam, are now busy in undertaking work on modernisation and Greenfield berths under the Public Private Participation programme. As a result, within a few years, the major ports as part of the Ministry of Shipping’s mission will turn into landlord ports.

Their job will be to collect royalty and commission as per the concession agreements signed with the investors as landlord ports. On the other hand, the minor ports find themselves positioned better due to exemption from any regulator on tariff fixation.

However, all the major ports are governed under the Tariff Authority for Major Portsregime making it difficult for them to compete with minor ports.

The Ministry projects that the total cargo handling capacity of all projects put together will go up to 3,130 million tonnes from the present 900 million tonnes as against the target of 2,500 million tonnes by 2020. An investment of Rs.73,793 crore is envisaged during the 12 Five Year Plan.

“We are going ahead as per the policy guidelines finalised by the Ministry of Shipping. Within a few years all major ports will be converted into landlord ports and to keep themselves as a force to reckon with they have to set up minor ports,” admitted an official of Visakhapatnam Port.

Captive port

Visakhapatnam Port is making serious efforts to develop a satellite port near Bheemunipatnam. It also has plans to associate itself with the port proposed under the Build Operate and Transfer scheme at Nakkapalli. Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is toying with the idea of setting up a captive port near Gangavaram.

The advantage with these projects is that both RINL and VPT have their own land on which minor ports can be developed with minimal investment.

According to S.R. Kulkarni, president of the All India Port & Dock Workers’ Federation, the cargo throughput of major ports in 2003-04 was 344.8 million tonnes as against 560.2 million tonnes in 2011-12.

The minor ports increased their throughput from 118.86 million tonnes in 2003-04 to 370 mt in 2011-12 registering a growth of 211.29 per cent as against 62.47 per cent growth by major ports during the same period.

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