Ships and merchant vessels, that docked at non-major ports in Gujarat, transported a “record” 4,483 lakh tonnes of cargo, during financial year 2023-24. This is an increase of 8 per cent compared to the previous year.

Data sourced from Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the Gujarat government’s nodal agency for ports, show that previous high was clocked during the pre-Covid era --- 2019-20 --- when these minor ports in the state registered cargo volumes of over 4,120 lakh tonnes. 

However, most of this growth in cargo volumes, emanates from private ports in Gujarat. These private ports ---- which include those located in Mundra, Pipavav, Dahej and Hazira -- registered a 14.4 per cent growth in cargo volumes. A total of 2,475 lakh tonnes of cargo, was handled by private ports during 2023-24. The previous year, these ports handled 2,163 lakh tonnes of cargo.

Exports from private ports grew by 19 per cent to 685 lakh tonnes in 2023-24 from 575 lakh tonnes the previous year. Similarly, imports too grew 13 per cent to 1,790 lakh tonnes from the earlier 1,588 lakh tonnes.

GMB-owned ports under-perform

The performance of state-governments or the GMB-owned ports in Gujarat, is quite the contrary, when compared to the private entities. During the financial year, at least 10 ports owned by the Gujarat government saw a decline in cargo throughput. The cargo handled by GMB-owned ports declined by 8 per cent to 222 lakh tonnes in 2023-24 compared to the 241 lakh tonnes, the previous year.

Exports from GMB-owned ports fell by 11 per cent to 39 lakh tonnes in 2023-24, from the earlier 44 lakh tonnes. Similarly, imports dipped by 7 per cent to 183 lakh tonnes from the earlier 198 lakh tonnes.

When asked why the GMB-owned ports have under-performed when compared to the private ports in Gujarat, a senior state government official with the GMB said, “The minor ports that are being run by the state government are not proactively marketed. Secondly, many of them lack the facilities and infrastructure. Thirdly, a number of them are functioning at over 100 per cent of their capacity and are unable to handle more cargo.”

In order to improve the efficiency of state government run ports in Gujarat, the state government is in process of preparing a master-plan to modernise these ports, officials added. Gujarat boasts of having 48 non-major ports dotting its 1,600 kilometer long coastline. However 28 of these ports are lying non-operational.