Investment proposals worth over ₹45,000 – 50,000 crore are awaiting environmental clearance in the port sector with bulk of the plans stuck in Tamil Nadu, reveals a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
According to the study, several public sector undertakings and private sector firms have lined up fresh investments in multi-purpose and specialized ports.
A majority of the project proposals awaiting environmental clearance pertain to Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, the study which analyzed official data, found.
“At a time when there is a real dearth of bankable investment projects, keeping the projects in key infrastructure waiting does not speak well of the system involved,” said the Assocham spokesperson.
The data up to March 2013 shows that a host of projects were awaiting green clearance including for ports such as Kancheepuram, Udangudi, Vanagiri, Mannad and Chetinad. Projects in Gujarat and Maharashtra also await clearance.
The Assocham study notes that the impact of slowdown in international commodity trade is divergent on different ports. For instance, the average growth in cargo handled in Tamil Nadu ports has been quite low between 0.2 percent and 3.2 percent. With a coastline of 906 km., the state has three major ports at Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin and 15 non-major ports.
In Andhra Pradesh, the average growth in cargo handled has been dismal in the last three years with 2012-13 showing a decline of 1.9 percent and the previous two years showing a meagre expansion of less than two percent.
In Maharashtra, growth dropped to 3.4 percent in 2012-13 from six percent in the previous year, reflecting a slowdown in the economy.
Ban on export of iron ore seems to have impacted the performance of ports located in Goa where cargo traffic plummeted to 21 million tonnes in 2012-13 from 60 million tonnes in 2011-12.
Karnataka performed well considering the growth in cargo handled, but Kerala reflected the falling trend. Similarly, Odisha witnessed a 14 percent growth but West Bengal saw a seven percent drop in cargo handled from its ports.
Gujarat registered over 9 -12 percent growth and also did well in terms of capacity creation.
The study points out that performance of ports have been affected by the slowdown and also lack of investment owing to various reasons.
India does not figure in the list of world’s top 20 container ports that includes eight ports from China with Shanghai being number one.
The study calls for improvement in the efficiency levels of Indian ports.
Average turnaround time for all major ports improved from 8.10 days in 1990-91 to 3.63 days in 2005-06. It increased to 5.29 days in 2010-11. The average TRT declined to 4.56 days in 2011 – 12 and further to 3.94 days in 2012-13.