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Monday, 09 Dec 2013
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Indian ports making headway towards capacity expansion

Indian ports are making headway towards their capacity expansion plans with the Shipping Ministry awarding 13 projects during the April-September period of the current fiscal. Thus, the Ministry, which plans to award a total of 30 port projects in 2013-14, may well be able achieve the target.

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Out of the 30 projects, the Union Government plans to award 19 projects through the PPP mode. So far, five PPP projects have been awarded between April-September 2013. These include a mega project awarded to Essar Ports for the development of three iron ore berths at Visakhapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh.


Vadinar Oil Terminal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Essar Ports, emerged as the highest bidder for the mechanization and operation two outer harbour berths and one inner harbour berth at Visakhapatnam Port in May 2013. The three berths, having a combined capacity of 23 million tpa, will be developed on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis for a concession period of 30 years. The total project cost is estimated at Rs 940 crore.


A consortium of Concast Infratech and Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company bagged the contract for developing the northern complex at Haldia Dock-II on BOT basis. The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT)’s Board of Trustees awarded Haldia Dock-II (North) to the consortium in September 2013. The port facility will have a capacity of 11.7 million tpa and is expected to be completed by 2016-17. The project is estimated to cost Rs 822 crore.


Other PPP projects awarded during the period include two projects to Transstroy - OJSC Consortium by the V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust. In April 2013, V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust signed a concession agreement with Transstroy - OJSC Consortium for development of North Cargo Berth-IV and construction of shallow draught berth at Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu through PPP on DBFOT basis.


The North Cargo Berth-IV for handling bulk cargoes will have a capacity of 9.15 million tpa and will come up at an estimated cost of Rs 355 crore. While the shallow draught berth for handling of cement and raw materials will have a capacity of 2.67 million tpa, with an estimated cost of 84.08 crore.


Several important port projects are scheduled to be put up for bidding in 2013-14, including the much delayed fourth container terminal project at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the container terminal extension project and development of Western Quay-7 and Western Quay-8 at Visakhapatnam port.


The way ahead


As of now, capacity of the 12 major ports in India is 745 million tpa. The 12th Five Year Plan has chalked up a target of taking this capacity to 1,229.24 million tpa by 2017. While the Shipping Ministry’s Maritime Agenda 2020 estimates that the total combined capacity of major and non-major ports will rise to 3,200 million tpa by 2020. Even after setting such ambitious targets, India’s road to capacity expansion of ports has not been a smooth one mainly due to various structural issues. Especially in terms of PPP projects, major tenders have collapsed and the overall tendering process delayed due to lack of clarity on the bidding framework, qualification criteria and concession terms.


As a means of boosting private investment in the ports sector, the Shipping Ministry announced new Guidelines for Determination of Tariff for Projects at Major Ports, 2013, which came into effect from 1 August, 2013. As against the previous practice where the tariffs at major ports were fixed by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP), the new guidelines allow terminal operators to set their own market-linked tariffs with a cap of 15 per cent. The new guidelines provide for inflation-indexed tariffs, along with specific performance standards for port projects to improve accountability and quality of service.


The Shipping Ministry has also fixed the timeline for processing of clearances, and specified that any decision on security clearance would be valid for three years, unless there is a change in management control or change in over 10 per cent ownership. The ministry has also mandated all state governments to get security clearances for their respective ports.


Even though the new tariff guidelines and other initiatives have come as a breather to private players in the port sector, the Shipping Ministry may still fail to achieve the given targets if projects are not awarded on time. Thus, a lot is riding on the fact that the current pace will continued and port projects will be awarded and completed without any inordinate delays.

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Quote of the week:


"The capacity of Indian ports including major and non-major ports has now crossed 1,300 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). The ministry’s vision and our maritime agenda is to increase the capacity to 3,200 million tonnes by 2020. Government of India has taken various initiatives to enhance capacity of Indian ports and also to modernise their operations…. It has been the best performance in many decades in the shipping ministry. We are followed by a better performance this year. In the current year major ports are aiming to award 30 projects- for a capacity addition of 284 million tonnes per annum."

-G. K. Vasan, Minister of Shipping


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