The government has scaled down the freight handling target of major ports for the year 2016-17 after they failed to achieve 695 million tonnes set by the Shipping Ministry for 2015-16 as a global slowdown affected cargo volumes, according to top officials.
Talking to The Hindu, several port officials said 13 major ports in the country ended 2015-16 by recording a moderate growth of 4.13 per cent over the year-ago period by handling 606.37 million tonnes of cargo.The officials also cited several other reasons for the ports missing out on cargo targets including European economic crisis, ban on export of iron ore by some states, a drop in imports from China and decrease in industrial output in India.
Following this, the Ministry scaled down the target for 2016-17 to 644 million tonnes, lower by nearly 51 million tonnes from the 695 million tonnes fixed for 2015-16. For the current year, six ports (Haldia, Paradip, Kamarajar, Chennai, V.O. Chidambaranar and Cochin) have been asked to handle 10 per cent more cargo than they handled during 2015-16, five ports (Mumbai, JNPT, Visakhapatnam, New Mangalore and Kandla) are to handle an additional 1 to 5 per cent cargo while targets for Kolkata and Mormugao have been scaled down marginally.
During 2015-16, major ports handled 606.37 million tonnes against 581.34 million tonnes in the year-ago period. Coal for power plants, fertilisers, pulses, iron and steel and petroleum products were the main drivers of this growth.
Port officials said the new target provided huge relief to them as it was fixed on a scientific basis.
“Last year, the Ministry had set a stiff target of 15 per cent growth. Mormugao Port posted 41 per cent growth followed by VOC Port with 13.7 per cent. Six ports surpassed their previous year’s cargo handling volume whereas others missed it by a whisker,” said an Indian Ports Association official.
According to Shipping Ministry statement, since 2012-13, only four, three and four ports respectively had crossed the target. This year, only Mormugao Port could do it. During March 2016, Kandla Port created history by handling 100 million tonnes of cargo. In the east coast, Paradip Port moved 76.38 million tonnes of cargo.