Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said India's 12 major ports will double their cargo handling capacity to 1,600 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in the next five years.
"India plans to double the ports' capacity from the current 800 MT to 1,600 over the next five years," Gadkari said in an official release. Gadkari was speaking at a review meeting on the port sector attended by chiefs of all the 12 state-run major ports.
He said the major ports have already drawn up action plan for a capacity addition of 500 MTPA, of which projects to the tune of 350 MTPA are slated to commence during this financial year itself. The private sector Mundra Port in Gujarat, promoted by Adanis Group, has become the largest port in India, pipping the major ones which have held the distinctions for decades.
"Ports and roads play a key role in development. The country's GDP can be boosted by 2 per cent if these key infrastructure sectors are developed to their potential," said Gadkari, who also holds the charge of Transport Ministry.
He said the Government will give a greater push to water transport. Required policy measures, including review of the tariff regulator TAMP, will be taken to "remove bottlenecks and facilitate growth", he said.
Gadkari's predecessor GK Vasan had disbanded TAMP for new projects at the major ports in order to usher in greater investments for the sector, but the issue of including the existing projects under the TAMP remains unresolved.
Under the TAMP (Tariff Authority for Major Ports) regime, the regulator used to set caps on the maximum charges which a major port can levy. According to experts, this inhibited investments as the charges need to be linked to the market realities.
At the meeting, Gadkari also spoke about operational efficiency, saying the longer turnaround times for vessels at the country's ports, compared to something like 0.6 days in Singapore, affect our image globally.
On port connectivity, Gadkari suggested the RO-RO (roll-on, roll-off) services should be used more to decongest the waterway facilities.
Calling upon the port heads to speed up decision making and use the authority granted to them under the Port Trust Act, Gadkari said the Government will support them for "bona-fide decisions taken with a positive approach".
With project delays afflicting the sector in the past, he asked the ports to draw timelines for implementation of ventures and also adopt e-tendering and global tendering to promote transparency.
Port congestion, delay in evacuation, slow process of customs clearance, inadequate draft in the channels preventing arrival of large ships, inadequate road and rail connectivity were some of the key points identified at the meeting, the release said.
Besides the port chiefs, Shipping Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi, Director General of Shipping Gautam Chatterjee and Joint Secretary (Ports) N Muruganandan attended the meeting held in a star hotel in the financial capital, which is also home to two major ports.