Fast-track major ports' expansion plans: Parliamentary panel

V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on October 11, 2011

New Mangalore Port, the only major port of Karnataka, is now attracting cruise vessels also. (file photo)

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has recommended that the proposals of major ports for modernisation/ expansion should be processed on a fast track and steps taken to ensure that these projects are cleared on time.

The recommendation of the committee comes in the wake of complaints from stakeholders regarding old cargo handling machinery installed decades ago at major ports that is affecting the smooth cargo handling operations.

The committee headed by Mr Sitaram Yechury recommended that the Government should enhance the present limit of Rs 50 crore for new projects and Rs 100 crore for replacement of equipment available for the major ports to enable more autonomy.

The committee finds that the proposals of major ports for replacement of old cargo handling equipment/machineries with modern ones are in the process stuck at one level or the other. It is brought to the notice of the committee that major ports are authorised to undertake a work worth Rs 50 crore for new projects and Rs 100 crore for replacement of outdated equipment.

Lack of financial powers

A general feeling amongst the port management, port trustees and port users was that lack of adequate financial powers with ports in undertaking development projects was the major factor for the delays.

While going into the reasons for low efficiency of major ports, the committee found that inadequate port capacity, old and outdated cargo equipment, lower drafts, non-availability of berths, etc are some of the major factors that are affecting the efficiency of major ports.

Capacity addition woes

The committee observed that several projects are either under implementation or are being planned for future requirement. The pace of capacity addition has not been in line with that of growth in cargo. The ports will have to prepare to handle the increased volume of traffic in view of the anticipated GDP growth in future. The Government must take steps for immediate enhancement of port capacity and efficiency.

The committee noted that despite increase in traffic handled from 313.53 million tonnes in 2002-03 to 560.96 million tonnes during 2009-10 and also the increase in the aggregate capacity increase from 362.75 million tonnes per annum to 628.03 million tonnes during the period, there has been a negligible growth in efficiency parameters at major ports.

Published on October 11, 2011

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