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India must invest in connectivity, not in more ports: World Bank expert

Tuesday, 29 May 2018 | 20:00

India needs more investments in multi-modal connectivity to existing ports than new deep-sea ports, the World Bank has said, flagging concerns on the country’s ambitious plan to build new ports as part of the Sagarmala programme.

“There is enough port capacity available prime facie; what is not available is the multi-modal connectivity to the ports,” said Biju Ninan Oommen, Senior Port and Maritime Transport Specialist, Transport & ICT Global Practice at the World Bank.

“What India needs is investment in the land side in multi-modal logistics than more deep-sea ports at this point,” Oommen said at a recent Indo-Dutch Forum on Smart and Sustainable Port-led Development.

The 12 major ports run by the Central government have a capacity to handle 1,359 million tonnes (mt) of cargo a year. The dozen ports handled a combined 679.35 mt of cargo in the year to March 2018, operating at a capacity utilisation of 50 per cent.

Several new ports built with private funds have added to the capacity and many are struggling for cargo as growth remains subdued due to a decade of weak global trade.

The Shipping Ministry has identified six locations to build new ports — Vadhavan (Maharashtra), Enayam (Tamil Nadu), Tajpur (West Bengal), Paradip Outer Harbour (Odisha), Sirkazhi (Tamil Nadu) and Belekeri (Karnataka).

“The techno-economic feasibility reports have been prepared for five locations and is under preparation for Tajpur. Detailed project reports are under preparation for Vadhavan, Enayam and Paradip Outer Harbour Projects. In-principle Cabinet approval has been obtained for a transshipment port at Enayam,” a Shipping Ministry official said.

Sagarmala project

The government plans to invest ₹91,371 crore to expand port capacity by 884 mt by 2035 as part of the ambitious Sagarmala programme, according to the Shipping Ministry. The plan includes 39 road connectivity projects for improving and strengthening the connectivity of major ports to national and state highways, the Ministry said.

Like the World Bank, concerns had been expressed by global port operators such as DP World Ltd and PSA International Pte Ltd, which run multiple facilities in India.

In February, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, said the country “needed more cargo and fewer ports”.

“India already has a lot of economic activity in the hinterland; it’s just that they are not well connected,” Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO, PSA International Pte Ltd, had said during a visit to Mumbai in February.

The opening of the dedicated freight corridor (DFC) would partially offset these concerns, but that is still a few years away, according to a port industry executive.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

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