Cargo handling at India’s major ports continues to be on the growth trajectory as there was a 11 per cent increase in traffic in the first half of this fiscal to 384 million tonnes (mt) as against 346 mt in the same period last year. The increased handling of POL and coal, and easing of the supply chain globally have helped in the increased cargo handling.

Except for Mormugao port, all the other major ports reported a positive growth in the first six months of this fiscal, according to data by Indian Ports Association.

Kamarajar port reported the highest growth in traffic with 16.40 per cent, followed by Visakhapatnam (15.39 per cent) and Paradip (13.48 per cent).

The fall in Mormugao’s traffic was due to a sharp decline in handling of iron ore, including pellets, to 8 lakh tonnes as against 2.2 mt in the same period last year, the data said.

Growth drivers

The healthy growth in volumes at major ports are mainly driven by recovery in demand for POL and coal segment, which had been subdued in the last two years due to several factors including the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. The increase in demand for imported coal due to coal shortage for power production also resulted in higher volumes, said Sai Krishna, Vice-President and Sector Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA.

The performance of Mormugao port has however been adversely impacted by decline in iron ore and pellet volumes as the trade in the segment has been impacted by government regulations. For the full year, ICRA expects the overall volume growth at Indian Ports to be around 6-8 per cent on year-on-year basis (including non-major ports), he said.

Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Practice leader and Director - Transport logistics and Mobility, CRISIL, said that there has been a secular growth in ports traffic across both major and non-major ports. Supply chain-related issues have eased significantly and easing of charter rates can act as a tailwind for Indian port operators.

In the non-major ports or private ports, Adani Ports and SEZ said that in the first half of this fiscal it handled 177.5 mt of cargo, which is a 11 per cent increase year on year.

During the first half, east coast port volumes were up 13 per cent year on year, supported by Krishnapatnam (+13 per cent growth), Gangavaram (+9 per cent) and Kattupalli and Ennore combined (+51 per cent). The west coast volume jump of 10 per cent is supported by Mundra (+8 per cent), Dahej (+65 per cent), Tuna (+19 per cent) and Goa (+22 per cent), said Adani group data.