A parliamentary committee has stressed the need to increase the draft of almost all the country’s ports under the Sagarmala program according to their respective cargo profiles.
An increased draft helps ports handle larger ships.
In its most recent report, the departmental parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture said draft depths in major ports, both in the channel and at berths, have been historically low, ranging from 7 meters in older ports to 20 meters in newer ports. The draft depth does not correspond to the change in ship size and the changes in cargo trends such as containerization.
“Although the government has taken a number of initiatives to modernize our ports under the Sagarmala program, much remains to be done to ensure the availability of drafts to handle megaships,” the committee said.
It found that increasing competition and economies of scale have spurred the development of larger ships and ports to accommodate such ships need access channels of sufficient depth and advanced and highly efficient terminal facilities.
“There is an urgent need to increase the draft of almost all ports in the country under the Sagarmala program, for which the need for dredging in Indian ports should be assessed and dredging plans for larger vessels should be formulated,” the committee recommended.
Although the government has taken a number of initiatives to modernize our ports under the Sagarmala program, the committee noted that much remains to be done to ensure the availability of drafts to handle megaships.
The Committee recommended that the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways resolve all pending issues, including land acquisition permits, CRZ clearances, etc. expeditiously in order to expedite the execution of Sagarmala projects.
The committee pointed out that only two Indian ports feature in the top 40 global container ports.
While noting that there is significant potential to develop port infrastructure in India and become competitive with other leading seafaring nations by increasing cost efficiency, it recommended that the overall capacity of Indian ports be expanded and the cost competitiveness of Indian ports in a to ensure that in the next 5-7 years India will have at least 5 of its ports in the top 40 ports by container throughput.
The committee also suggested that major ports should consider reducing ship-related fees appropriately and bring them in line with fees applied in neighboring foreign ports.