Prakash Kamat

Maritime States show considerable initiative

Handling capacity at ports to touch 1.5 b tonnes by 2013

PANAJI: Cargo traffic by sea is set for a major growth in the near future, with some of the maritime States showing considerable initiative to set up maritime boards and develop minor ports, Praveen Agarwal, Chairman of Mormugao Port Trust(MPT), said here on Thursday.

Giving an insight into the emerging port scenario, Mr. Agarwal, who also officiates as the Chairman of Kandla port, said the country had 700 million tonnes handling capacity, which was estimated to touch 1.5 billion tonnes by 2013 and two billion tonnes by 2020.Mr. Agarwal described these targets as “fairly realistic” and gave the credit to some of the maritime states which had taken more initiatives to develop minor ports. Mr. Agarwal lauded the initiatives of States like Gujarat, which led the pack with 42 ports, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, all of which had set up maritime boards and were in the process of developing minor ports. Goa, he said, had notified five minor ports already, but felt that it would have to conduct a lot of studies of navigational channel as connectivity to handle cargo was crucial and expressed MPT’s willingness to share its expertise in joint ventures with the State. Incidentally, Goa has a wonderful barge transport system, where apart from cargo, passenger transport could be developed, Mr. Agarwal said.

Mr. Agarwal spoke of the imminent need for the country to create critical infrastructure for container traffic as no port is geared and capable to receive mega vessels of the capacity like 6,500 TEUs, as a result of which, the cost and time constraints in container traffic sector continue to dog country’s external trade.