Officials at the country’s ports are scrambling to meet last year’s performance in volume of trade, with less than a week left for the financial year to end.While most of the 12 major ports in the country will successfully cross their respective performance figures of last year, they might not be able to achieve the target fixed by the Shipping Ministry. Officials manning these ports consider the target steep, given the ongoing European crisis, the ban on export of iron ore by some states, a drop in imports from China, industrial output in India being down and global slowdown, say trade sources.
While Kamarajar Port is on the verge of crossing last year’s cargo volume, Chennai Port will fall short of its target by five million tonnes. Ports of Paradip, V.O. Chidambaranar, Mormugao and Kandla are in a comfortable position as they have been posting double-digit growth.
Till February 2016, major ports shipped 550 million tonnes of cargo against 527 million tonnes handled for the corresponding period last year, marking an increase of 4 per cent. For the full year ended March 2015, the ports collectively handled 581 million tonnes against the target of 604 million tonnes. The current year target is fixed at 695 million tonnes. Sources close to the authorities in the ports indicate that at best, the collective figures will meet last year’s performance of about 580 million tonnes.
Due to a steep fall in petroleum product prices, India imported 4.33 per cent more petroleum and oil and lubricant (POL) products in the last 11 months than the corresponding period the previous year. Last year, POL import was up by 0.88 per cent.
Imports have come down in the case of fertilisers by 18 per cent compared with previous year’s figures, while coal volumes dropped by seven per cent, containers by 1.28 per cent and other cargoes by four per cent.
“Every year, the Shipping Ministry has been fixing an unscientific target. Knowing well that the global economy is down, they have fixed a stiff target of 15 per cent growth for the current year over last year’s volume,” said a logistics provider.
Significantly, Chennai Port has with a loss of nearly one million tonnes of cargo due to the shutdown of Chennai Petroleum Corporation for a month and suspension of one million tonnes of steel slag exports to Bangladesh due to a railway freight hike, said a Chennai Port official.