There is not much progress in exploring coastal shipping: Saigal

KPMG National Head, Transport & Logistics Manish Saigal on Monday said due to slow pace of progress, there will be a shortfall of 1,170 million tonnes of cargo handling capacity than the projections made for 2020.

National Maritime Agenda envisages an investment of Rs. 2,870 billion for creating a total port capacity of 3,200 million tonnes across the country by 2020. Of this, total investment along the East Coast is expected to be Rs.1,126 billion with an additional port capacity of 900 million tonnes.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of CII conference on ports and logistics, Mr. Saigal said as per his assessment, the investment so far made was less than 10 per cent of the projections though 40 to 50 per cent of the investment should have been made by now.

He said if the capacity creation moved at the present pace, the country would be left with a shortfall of 1,170 million tonnes.

“The speed with which the industry expects the clearances for various investments in ports and logistics is not on the expected lines. Unlike one ministry for power sector, for clearances for investment in ports, one has to approach ministries connected with shipping, railways and road transport. We will be happy if a single window clearance system is initiated to propel the growth on a fast-track,” he said.

Mr. Saigal, who was associated with evolving long-term business strategy for Mumbai and JNPT ports, said the progress in the Western Coast was historically better than the East Coast due to more investments in minor ports.

Foreseeing a good growth in minor ports, he said 60 per cent of investment would be made in minor ports mainly in port handling, technology, mechanisation, storage, container freight stations and evacuation of cargo.

Regretting the negligence of rail connectivity with minor ports, he said the bottlenecks confronted by them in movement of cargo could be overcome if connectivity with the hinterland was improved.

Mr. Saigal said there was not much progress in exploring coastal shipping and inland water movement to reduce the freight cost. “Though there is a big opportunity in this sector, it has remained untapped for want of incentives and speedy clearances.

Policy framework is in place but there is no initiative on implementation front,” he stated.