The seaborne traffic at the country’s 13 major ports ended past two months’ decline with a strong 7.9 per cent increase in March, which was the highest rate in fiscal 2013-14. Barring Haldia, Chennai and Kandla where it was seventh consecutive month of y-o-y decline, the other 10 ports enjoyed enhanced business during the month. Continuing an exhilarating show on the back of booming business in thermal coal, Ennore (now Kamrajar) Port recorded 53 per cent increase in freight during March. The freight volume at Kolkata shot up 42 per cent, which came after 16 per cent drop in February. Among the cargoes, even as the finished fertiliser volume dropped 47 per cent, raw fertiliser quantity shot up 202 per cent. Coking coal volume was up 72 per cent and thermal coal 9 per cent.

Taking fiscal year 2013-14, the total traffic at 13 major ports increased 1.8 per cent, against 2.6 per cent decline in 2012-13 and 1.7 per cent in two years back. Whereas Ennore (now Kamrajar) was the star performer, with 54 per cent jump in business volume, which was after 20 per cent rise in the preceding fiscal and 35 per cent in two years back due to thermal coal surge, the business at Mormugao shrank 34 per cent during 2013-14 which was the third straight year of erosion that saw the volume at the port reduced to less than a fourth of that in 2010-11 due to disappearance of iron ore freight (barring some quantity during March 2014), the port’s main business area.

The freight at Kandla declined 7 per cent, the first decline in last four-five years due to lower POL, finished fertiliser and general industrial cargo. Business at Paradip was up 20 per cent, improving from 4 per cent rise in the preceding year and decline in earlier two years, due to iron ore, thermal, coking coal and general industrial freight. Among the cargoes, thermal coal cargo shot up 22 per cent and coking coal 18 per cent. Iron ore freight was down 13 per cent (even after taking into account y-o-y increases during August-February 2013-14).

Visakhapatnam, Paradip, Haldia and New Mangalore have emerged as new players in this cargo. Finished fertiliser declined 18 per cent, whereas raw fertiliser volume at the ports was up 5 per cent. The decline in finished fertiliser adversely affected Kandla and Visakhapatnam. POL freight increased 0.7 per cent; Kandla and Visakhapatnam were again among the ports recording decline in this freight. JNPT and Chennai were among the ports sharing 4 per cent decline container traffic.

Notwithstanding a decline in the latest fiscal, Kandla has remained the largest port in the country, also having improved its share in freight at 13 major ports from 14 per cent in 2008-09 to 16 per cent in 2013-thanks to increase in earlier four years. Paradip has improved its share in the total port traffic sharply from 9 per cent five years back and has emerged as the second largest port with 12 per cent share. JNPT (11.2 per cent), Mumbai (10.7 per cent) and Visakhapatnam (10.5 per cent) were the other major ports with double-digit share in total freight. The share of Mormugao in the freight at 13 major ports dropped from 8 per cent to 2 per cent due to eroding iron ore freight.

POL has remained the major commodity group in business at the ports with a third of total quantity handled at the ports. Containers and general industrial cargo accounted for around 20 per cent each and thermal coal 13 per cent. The share of iron ore dropped from 11 per cent to 4 per cent between 2008-09 and 2013-14.

SEABORNE CARGO AT MAJOR PORTS DURING 2013-14
 
000 tonnes
% increase
Kolkata Dock System
12,874
8.70
Haldia Dock Complex
28,511
1.52
Total: Kolkata
41,385
3.65
Paradip
68,003
20.25
Visakhapatnam
58,503
-0.91
Ennore (Now Kamrajar)
27,337
52.85
Chennai
51,105
-4.30
V.O. Chidambaranar (earlier Tuticorin)
28,642
1.35
Cochin
20,887
5.25
New Mangalore
39,365
6.29
Mormugao
11,739
-33.65
Mumbai
59,186
1.98
JNPT
62,346
-3.32
Kandla
87,005
-7.06
Total
555,503
1.78
Classification by cargo
POL
187,312
0.72
Iron ore
24,662
-13.38
Finished Fertiliser
6,104
-17.97
Raw Fertiliser
7,635
4.63
Thermal Coal
71,607
22.09
Coking Coal
33,121
18.26
Containers
114,641
-4.32
Other cargo
110,421
0.28
Total
555,503
1.78

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