The COVID-19 pandemic that continues to restrain free movement of goods across the globe brought down port traffic volumes by around 40% across the country in the first quarter of 2020-21.
The Cochin Port Trust (CPT) saw cargo throughput slip by 33.78% due largely to the steep fall in movement of petroleum products. But it did marginally better than the Kolkata Dock System and Ennore and Chennai ports, which sustained cargo fall by more than 39% each.
The movement of containers too was hit. The volume fell from 1.52 lakh TEUs during the first three months of the last financial year to 1.13 lakh TEUs during April-June 2020.
Paradip did not see such a severe impact, the port recording less than 10% fall in cargo movement, while the Mumbai port saw a cargo fall of 23%.
Mormugao and New Mangalore ports stand out. The volume of traffic at Mormugao rose by nearly 22% and New Mangalore volume rose by 4%.
Figures for the first quarter from the Indian Ports Association said that at the Kochi port, movement of petroleum, oil, and lubricants fell from 5.86 million tonnes between April and June 2019 to 3.67 million tonnes during the same period in 2020. The movement of other liquids fell from 1.41 lakh tonnes to 1.17 lakh tonnes between the same periods. The total volume of goods movement fell from 85 lakh tonnes to 56 lakh tonnes.
The IPA figures showed that the average fall in the movement of petroleum products across the country was nearly 15%, while coal showed the steepest fall of more than 34%. The average fall in container movement too stood above 30% at the all-India level.
Meanwhile, CPT chairperson M. Beena said Kochi hoped to emerge as a future hub for LNG bunkering, leveraging the port’s locational advantage. Speaking on the future plans of the port, she told a webinar organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry here that LNG was the fuel of the future, and by 2025, around 50% of vessels would be running on natural gas. The LNG terminal here will add muscle to Kochi’s bunkering ambitions.The reduction in GST from 18% to 5% has given bunker supplies a fillip, though ports like Colombo has no GST on bunker supplies.
She also said that the priority of the port here was to bring back around 1.8 million tonnes of cargo still being transshipped through Colombo.
Stiff competition among ports in south India and high wages on the Willingdon Island are the disadvantages of the port. The lack of an industrialised hinterland is another challenge, she added.
Source: The Hindu