Bulk and break bulk cargo movement through Kochi Port is likely to get a major boost with the Food Corporation of India opting the port for its foodgrains movement.

FCI recently floated a tender for multi-modal contract for transport of rice from designated depots of Kakinada to Kerala though coastal movement. The period of the contract is for one year to move 2.40 lakh tonnes of bagged rice to six designated depots of FCI in Kerala using multi-modal transport system.

A senior port official said that Kochi is well equipped to handle foodgrains in the Ernakulam wharf with the existence of rail sidings and road connectivity to move the cargo freely. With the shifting of container terminal operations to Vallarpadam, the facilities in the wharf offer a good opportunity to handle bulk and break bulk cargoes.

It is pointed out that the transportation of foodgrains in containerised and bagged format is the ideal way to minimise cargo loss and pilferage. It will also avoid intermediate handling for transfer from one mode to another.

Key factor

The key advantages of containerised transportation will be that the cargo in bagged forms can be delivered at the doorstep of the designated depots in a seamless manner and the movement of the container can be tracked throughout.

The trade sources pointed out that the passage of Food Security Bill has facilitated major ports to play a leading role in ensuring timely delivery of foodgrains to destinations at cost-effective rates and with minimum transit loss. By establishing dedicated cargo handling facilities, the ports in the country could offer a proper logistics solutions towards this.

However, the need of the hour is to utilise the facilities available with the ports optimally to handle foodgrain transit through coastal shipping service, said the port official.

The port side infrastructure such as storage silos are urgently to be set up. But some of the major ports are not in a position to handle coastal shipping service even as they cater to foodgrain exports.

The Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs, K.V.Thomas told Business Line that his Ministry is in favour of moving a substantial quantity of foodgrains as part of the food security programme through coastal shipping route as it reduce the freight cost.

At present around 20 lakh tonnes of foodgrains per day are moving through various modes of transport in India and once the port infrastructure is developed, he said a considerable portion can be shifted to seaways, which is proved to be cost effective.

The Ministry is also in touch with the Indian Railways to develop specially designated bogies and rail lines to carry the cargo for timely delivery, he added.

sajeevkumar.v@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 18, 2013)
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