Amit Mitra

Various user associations have registered their protest to TAMP, urging it to dissuade the port from implementing the hike.

Mumbai Nov. 29

, MUMBAI port has proposed a steep hike in various charges, including berth hire charges, pilotage and wharfage, which will make it one of the costliest ports in India for the users. The port has sent the proposal to the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) for approval.

This is expected to raise a storm of protest from various sections of port users, especially as the prevailing charges itself are considered to be high. Already, various user associations such as the All India Liquid Bulk Importers & Exporters' Association (AILBEA) and Indian Chemical Manufacturers' Association, have registered their protest to TAMP, urging the authority to dissuade the port from implementing the hike.

Informed sources told Business Line that the port had proposed to hike the berth hire charges by 24.8 per cent from the existing level of $0.0125 per GRT per hour to $0.0156, subject to a minimum charge of $15.625. The berth hire charges at JNPT, Kandla and Mangalore are at present $0.0053, $0.0125 and $0.02 per GRT per shift (8 hours). Similarly, pilotage charges are proposed to be increased by 13.05 per cent, they said.

Says Mr Jayant Lapsia, President of AILBEA: "As it is, the cost of import and export of bulk liquid in Mumbai port on per tonne basis is higher than those at JNPT by 34 per cent, Kandla by 87 per cent, Mangalore by 65 per cent and Cochin by 50 per cent. The proposed hike will make the port costlier by 64 per cent compared to JNPT and 127 per cent if compared to Kandla."

Some exporters and importers feel that if the port goes ahead and implements the hike, they may be forced to think in terms of diverting their cargoes to other major and non-major ports. The port's argument that it had proposed the hike in the light of the modernisation programme does not appear to cut ice with these exporters and importers, who feel that the port had to modernise and upgrade for its own survival.

The Mumbai port has claimed that its modernisation of the marine terminal (Jawahar Dweep), involving installation of a loading arm with remote control accessories, had necessitated a rate hike.

"What it (the port) fails to understand is that it is impossible to envisage any marine oil terminal today without modern unloading arms these days," an exporter pointed out.

The port has also attributed the increase in wharfage to implementation of its scheme for the provision of loading arms and pipelines in the Jawahar Dweep jetty. "If this is the basis, it (the port) should not charge any wharfage for its New Pir Pau jetty, as marine loading arms and pipelines at that terminal have been provided by the users," the exporter said.

Chemical makers' stand: Chemical manufacturers are also against the proposed hike. "The cost per tonne of bulk chemicals handled based on present charges (both vessel and cargo related) is Rs 309 per tonne at Mumbai Pir Pau, as against Rs 230 at JNPT, Rs 165 at Kandla, Rs 187 at Mangalore and Rs 197 at Mundra," a member of the Indian Chemical Manufacturers' Association said. He said as per the revised proposal of Mumbai port, the cost will increase to Rs 376 per tonne, which will deliver a blow to chemical manufacturers.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 30, 2005)
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