Ports now busier, hint at an economic revival Business News

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NEW DELHI: After six years of lull (2008-14), the port sector has registered remarkable revival sending clear signals of how country's economy is reviving. In the past one year, there has been significant increase in the handling of cargo by the country's 12 major ports and these ports have registered higher profit.

This has huge importance considering the fact that around 95% of India's trading by volume and 70% by value is done through maritime transport. According to government records, the year on year increase in volumes of cargo handled at these ports between April and August increased from 555 million metric tonnes (MMTs) in 2014 to 581 MMTs this year. Similarly, operating income increased from Rs 9,162 crore to Rs 9,962 crore. During 2008-14 period, the operating profit margin of major ports declined from 43% to 28% and even the market share of major ports fell from 72% to 57%. "Our focus is to make ports more efficient and they record more profit. We have set the target to reduce the turn around time at ports from the present four days to only two days in the next 2-3 years. The delay at ports adds to the cost of products that we get here," said shipping minister Nitin Gadkari. He added that government is targeting a net profit of Rs 2,500 crore from the 12 major ports in the next two years. Gadkari said major ports will add 100 MMT capacity by 2018 and have plans to spend about Rs 15,000 crore per annum. At present, these ports have a cumulative net profit of about Rs 1,500 crore. Shipping secretary Rajive Kumar said 12 major ports and about 200 minor ports taken together plan to take their capacity to 2,000 MMT by 2018. The combined capacity of all these ports is currently at about 1,400 MMT. Gadkari also said that all the major ports will soon become green ports by generating electricity for their consumption. "These ports will generate 150 MW of solar power and 50 MW of wind energy," he added.

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