The share of India's cargo traffic handled by top 12 major ports is on the rise and has reached 58 per cent in FY 2017-18, taking a lead over the traffic share of the non-major ports, which have been on the decline during past few years, according to latest figures released by the Ministry of Shipping. Buoyed by pick up in demand, the cargo traffic at these key ports have risen by 4.77 per cent to 679.35 million tonnes (MT) during 2017-18, compared to 648.47 MT during 2016- 17. The 12 major ports currently have cargo handling capacity of about 1,400 MT at present, which is being now subsantially raised through fresh investment.

On the contrary, the traffic handled by about 200 minor ports, either under the control of the State governments or the private players operating individual terminals, has been on the decline since 2014-15. The performance of non-major ports, particularly of ports in Gujarat have been rather spectacular for nearly over past one decade, before they have hit the peak levels. Private investors rushed into setting up severals of these private ports and cargo terminals, and earlier, a parliamentary panel had even expressed the concern over nonmajor ports eating into the share of major ports. The share of major ports in traffic handled, which declined continuously up to 2014-15, is however increasing since then. ( See the following bar chart) 

The share of major ports in traffic handled was 55 per cent in 2014-15 and increased to 58 per cent in 2017- 18,” the Ministry of Shipping noted in its report. The report said the market share of major ports, which was 61 per cent in 2010-11, had declined to 55 per cent in 2014-15 but on the back of initiatives by the Central government has been on rising. The market share of major ports was recorded at 57 per cent in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and reached 58 per cent at the end of the last fiscal, it said. On the contrary, the share of the minor ports which was at 45 per cent in 2014-15 has decreased to 42 per cent in 2017-18, despite minor relative increase in cargo throughput in 2017. India has 12 major ports, namely Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia). The report also said that the cargo traffic handled by major ports reached to 679.47 million tonnes (MT) in 2017-18 from 606.37 MT. Two major ports (out of 12) also handled more than 100 MT of cargo in FY 2017-18. For the first time a major port in India, Deendayal Port (Kandla) crossed 100 MT of traffic in 2016-17. Paradip Port has become the second major port to cross the figure of 100 MT of traffic during 2017-18,” the report said.

As many as 39 projects entailing investment of Rs 205.35 billion are under implementation to augment the capacity of 12 major ports. These projects are part of 112 port capacity expansion projects, involving total investment of Rs 696.36 billion, that have been planned to increase port capacity to 3,500 million tonne per annum (MTPA) to cater to the projected traffic of 2,500 MTPA by 2025. Buoyed by pick up in demand, cargo traffic at these ports rose by 4.77 per cent to 679.35 million tonnes (MT) during 2017-18 compared to 648.47 MT during 2016-17. The 12 major ports have capacity of about 1,400 MT at present. In addition to the port master plans, the government has also announced setting up six new ports at Vadhavan (Maharashtra), Enayam (Tamil Nadu), Tajpur (West Bengal), Paradip Outer Harbour (Odisha), Sirkazhi (Tamil Nadu) and Belekeri (Karnataka). 

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