Port Infra Set to Stage Amazing Upturn

Targeting a total port traffic handling capacity of 3.5 billion tons per annum in a phased manner by 2031, the Union Shipping Ministry has recently made a mark by crossing the coveted combined traffic handling capacities of one billion tons per annum. The National Maritime Development Program (NMDP) that targeted 387 port projects at an investment of Rs.90,000 crore for the current Plan period, has already commissioned 76 projects entailing an investment of Rs.17,110 crore and the rest are currently in various stages of implementations and many of them are about to commissioning. The emerging picture made it crystal clear that Indian port sector is set to stage an amazing upturn and is gradually gravitating to gain new heights in the global port arena. Reports Jeet Singh.

Port Scenario

The Indian port sector has recently touched the milestone with the combined capacities of all ports crossing one-billion tons per annum mark. In August, the nation-wide capacity stood at 996 million tons but in September the Gujarat Maritime Board facilities added 19 million tons pushing the total capacity to 1015 million tons.

However, there is a flip side to the story as the major chunk of the contribution to the growth in capacity addition has not come from the government-controlled 12 major ports but from the non-major ports, managed by Gujarat Maritime Board.

In totality, the available capacity with the 12 major ports as on June 30, 2010 was 619.88 million tons, non-major ports’ contributed 355.06 million tons. Of the 355.06 million tons capacity, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) controlled ports alone contributed to 243.64 million tons.

The capacities available at non-major ports as on June 30, 2010 include Gujarat (243.64 million tons), Andhra Pradesh (49.14 million tons), Maharashtra (28.28 million tons), Goa (13.90 million tons), Karnataka (9.20 million tons), Puducherry (4.30 million tons), Andaman & Nicobar Islands (3.23 million tons), Orissa (2.00 million tons), Tamil Nadu (1.2 million tons), Kerala (0.17 million tons) and Daman & Diu (0.005 million tons).

Gujarat Maritime Board which controlled three facilities contributed 19 million tons, which includes Essar jetty at Magdalla, Adani’s solid cargo terminal at Dahej and Kribco jetty at Magdalla, which is being revived.

The total capacity of the ports has grown 84.4% from 135 million tons in 2000-01 to 244 million in 2009-10.

Port Infra Set to Stage Amazing Upturn
If the progress made by GMB ports so far is incredible, they have reasons to smile as the GMB is projecting its port capacity to be 508 million tons by 2014-15 and 870 million tons by 2019-20. Essar is currently deepening the channel at Hazira to bring in large vessels of up to 1,05,000 DWT enabling the terminal to enjoy facility of offering direct berthing of vessels all year round.  The facility has now attained the status of becoming the gateway terminal of Gujarat for deep draught vessels. The terminal with a 550 meter long berth is capable of accommodating larger vessels directly alongside the berth through the year.  This will naturally result in quicker turnarounds and dwindled dependence on current lighter age operations, CEO Essar Bulk Terminal, Captain S Das said.

Pushing Port Potentials

In order to brighten its future business potentials, the Shipping Corporation of India has recently fixed Rs.18,000 crore for doubling its cargo carrying capacity from the current 5 million dead weight tonnage to 10 million tons per annum. The shipping company will achieve six million dead weight tonnage in one year and about eight million in the next three years and will finally reach 10 million in the fourth year. In totality, the shipping industry will improve markedly in the 2011 year because till then there would be a lot of supply side pressure meeting orders the industry had received between 2004 to 2008 period. However, the supply orders dwindled during 2008-09 because of which the industry has some respite beyond 2011.

Port Infra Set to Stage Amazing Upturn
In addition, it has also arranged Rs.3,700 crore to finance its fleet expansion plans. The company has raised Rs.3,000 crore from various sources and is in the process of using Rs.700 crore coming from its divestment proceeds. It has planned a massive fleet expansion but after recession it reworked on its $2.5 billion fleet addition plans of about 29 liners to its existing fleet of 60 in the immediate future. Adding to the capacity addition, Marg Limited has drawn up plans to touch 21 metric tons per annum capacity addition at Karaikal Port entailing an investment of Rs.1,500 crore. The company is adding three more berths catering to offshore supply vessels and project supply vessels. The other two berths would be put in place by September next year. It currently has two berths taking care of coal and general cargo. Its Karaikal Port has stabilized revenue significantly to its net earning in the first quarter of the current financial year. In addition, it plans to set up another new port at Mogaiyur in the southern stretches of Chennai entailing an investment of Rs.400 crore. The Karaikal port project proved to be very successful as in the first quarter of the current year the port’s throughput is set to touch 1.3 million tons as the BHEL has become its regular customer. The Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited has also decided to use the port to bring in crude to its Cauvery Basin refinery, besides several cement companies are also using the port to bring raw materials and ship out cements for multiple destinations. The port’s current capacity is five million tons per annum (mtpa) and is being expanded to 21 mtpa involving an investment of Rs.1,600 crore.

New Perspective Plan

Port Infra Set to Stage Amazing Upturn
To eliminate the bottlenecks the Ministry of Shipping is all set to implement the new perspective plan (NPP) for the country’s maritime sector, which includes policy framework to enhance the capacity and productivity of Indian maritime sector and also to add supplementary projects for port development from other infrastructure agencies including NHAI, the railway and in land waterways, dredging mechanization and modernization plans for both major and non major ports. The government also introduced public private partnership (PPP) model in the port sector and the initiatives pushed the projects on fast track. As on August this year, 24 private PPP projects with an investment of about Rs.6480 crore have become operational at major ports and 16 PPP projects entailing an investment of Rs.10,370 crore are currently in various stages of implementations. In addition, the ministry has decided to launch 24 capacity addition projects at major ports at an investment of Rs.16,480 crore by the end of the current financial year. Apart from this, there is a noticeable increased in interest from small and medium businessmen to invest in non major ports and about 24 greenfield port projects are expected to go on stream in the next ten years. The government has also granted permission for leasing out land on upfront premium enabling the port authorities to tackle recessionary upheavals. This was necessitated because in the last fiscal India could not achieve the target of $200 billion foreign trade despite various stimuli and concession injected by the government and the new guidelines will fetch extra funds to port authorities and will push their business potentials.

Projects on Radar

The Vizag Port Trust (VPT) in Visakhapatnam has recently inked three major MoUs, which include Sterlite Industries, Steel Authority of India and Essar giving much needed boost to port business. It has signed a model concession agreement with Sterlite Industries for mechanization of coal handling facilities at an investment of Rs.443 crore. The work includes setting up of a multi model logistics hub on an area of 65 acres in Exim Park in a joint venture. A memorandum of understanding was signed with Balmer Lawrie & Company Limited, to set up an integrated logistics hub. In the process, the general cargo berth in the outer harbor would be upgraded to handle 2 lakh DWT vessels and it would be able to handle 10.18 million tons per annum mtpa. The project, which will provide cargo handling facilities to SAIL and Essar, will be executed by Sterlite and will become fully functional by 2012. That apart, the Union Shipping Ministry has given its nod to the Visakhapatnam Port Trust to set up two projects for thermal and steam coal handling involving at an investment of Rs.313 crore and Rs.323 crore respectively. For the projects, which would add a capacity of 16 million tons per annum to the major port, the ministry has already floated tender inviting private players to bid for the project with a construction period of 24 months. Giving further boost to port infrastructure in Gujarat, the Pipavav Port Limited (GPPL) has decided to invest Rs.200 crore, on raising fresh infrastructure and upgrading the existing one. The development plans include building rail sidings, a container yard and building roads at Pipavav in which the company has already invested over Rs.1,500 crore. In addition, it has also laid a dedicated rail lines up to Surendranagar in Gujarat to handle the racks segment of the port logistics. The operation is being run in a joint venture with Pipavav Railway Corporation, a wholly owned arm of the Indian Railways.

Port Infra Set to Stage Amazing Upturn
The Union Shipping Ministry has cleared Rs.100 crore to the Chennai Port Trust (CPT) to buy 125 acres of land near Sriperum- budur SEZ for a logistics hub. The trust will take land on 99 years lease near Mappedu from the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT). As per plans a private operator will be identified to set up the dry port and multi modal logistics hubs on build operate and transfer (BOT) module for a period of 30 years, for which the state government had already confirmed land allotment. Augmenting its LNG storage capacity from the current 10 million tons to 15 million tons per annum (mtpa) at its receiving and re-gasification terminal at Dahej in Gujarat, Petronet LNG Limited, is investing Rs.2,300 crore in building two more storage tanks in addition to existing four to match the likely spurt in demand. Apart from this, the PLL has initiated the process of setting up a second LNG jetty at Dahej to berth higher capacity LNG vessels. Its joint venture with GAIL, ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation has a 20% share in the Indian gas market and to further push its share it is setting up a 2.5 mtpa terminal at Kochi and it is all set to go on stream by the middle of 2012.

Global Guessing

Listing the latest ranking of the top container ports of the world by Journal of Commerce, Jawaharlal Nehru Port stands at 25th position amongst the world’s busiest ports, while Port of Singapore has been ranked as the first and the busiest container port in the world. Weathering world’s recessionary tendencies, Shanghai Port of China snatched the second spot by pushing Hong Kong to third position and then Shenzhen and Busan clocked fourth and fifth in the global port positioning. Strikingly, all these top five ports recorded double digit declines in their performance as compared to 2008, with Singapore alone clocking 13.7% performance crunch. The Journal also claimed that Asia is housing all the top nine ports of the world whereas China is currently harboring six of the top nine ports of the world.
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