Chennai and Tuticorin ports suffer loss in the export volume of granite blocks

The loss in the export volume of granite blocks from Chennai and Tuticorin Ports has turned the wave in favour of Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh.

For the first three months of the current year (April to June), Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal has recorded export volume of 2.6 lakh tonnes (2.25 lakh tonnes), while Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) clocked 1.50 lakh tonnes against 1.92 lakh tonnes for the corresponding period last year and Tuticorin Port about 1,560 tonnes (38,618 tonnes).

According to industry sources, quarry owners from places such as Hospet, Bagalot, Adoni and Ongole shifted their loyalty to Krishnapatnam Port due to a number of favourable factors such as proximity, tariff and exclusive rail sidings to handle the shipment.

There has been enormous activity in Andhra Pradesh in the granite sector for the past three years due to introduction of flexible policy. The neighbouring State accounts for 42 per cent of India’s production.

Since March 2012, ChPT has been witnessing a downward trend in exports due to a ban on movement of granite-laden trucks during day time, traffic congestion and delay in reaching consignments to the terminal on time.

Tuticorin Port is plagued by different type of problems. The port handled granite blocks moved from quarries located in and around Madurai and Tirunelveli region. However, mining activities in Madurai came to a standstill following action initiated by the Madurai District Collector on illegal quarry owners last year.

Talking to The Hindu, a Tuticorin Port official said: “There has been a significant drop in the volume from Madurai. Whatever we exported this year came from Tirunelveli region.”

Chennai Custom House Agents president A.V. Vijaykumar said that Chennai Port started to lose this cargo on two counts — pricing and infrastructure. The tariff in ChPT is fixed by Tariff Authority for Major Ports. ChPT can ask for price reduction to compete with private ports and stay afloat.

“The other problem is reaching the cargo directly to the loading point. It might take a week or 10 days for the exporter to mobilise the cargo and then move it for loading. Besides, the exporter does not have place to stock his products inside the port. Hence, ChPT has to set up an exclusive granite yard and provide it to the exporters at a concessional rate,” he said.

Pointing out that Karnataka, Orissa and Rajasthan had become active players in a short span of time industry representatives said that Tamil Nadu should come out with a contemporary policy as the existing one was announced some 15 years ago.

“The foreign buyers are also concerned about the ongoing crackdown on quarries in the State and have stopped placing orders. It is high time we have a good forward-looking policy backed by good infrastructure,” they said.