Economic times, March 28, 2023
A parliamentary committee has stressed on the need for increasing the draft depth of almost all the ports of the country under Sagarmala Programme according to their respective cargo profile. Increased draft depth helps ports handle larger vessels.
In its latest report, the department-related parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture said that the draft depth at major ports, both in the channel and berths, has been historically low and ranges from 7 metres in older ports up to 20 metres in newer ports. The draft depth is not commensurate with the change of ship sizes and changes in cargo trends such as containerisation.
“Though the government has taken a number of initiatives to modernise our ports under the Sagarmala Programme, a lot remains to be done to ensure deep-draft availability to handle mega ships,” the committee said.
It observed that increased competition and economy of scale has fuelled the development of bigger ships and to accommodate such vessels, ports must have access channels of sufficient depth along with advanced and highly efficient terminal facilities.
“There is an urgent need to increase the draft of almost all the ports of the country under the Sagarmala Programme, for which, the requirement of dredging at Indian Ports should be assessed and dredging plans should be formulated to accommodate larger ships,” the committee recommended.
While noting that though the government has taken a number of initiatives to modernize our ports under the Sagarmala Programme, the committee said a lot remains to be done to ensure deep draft availability to handle mega ships.
The committee recommended that the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways should expeditiously resolve all pending issues, including clearances related to land acquisition, CRZ clearances etc, so that the execution of Sagarmala projects is expedited.
The committee pointed out that only two Indian ports feature in the top 40 Global Container Ports.
While pointing out that there is significant potential to develop port infrastructure in India and become competitive with other leading maritime nations by driving cost effectiveness, it recommended that overall capacity augmentation of Indian ports should be done and cost competitiveness at Indian ports should be ensured in a manner that in the next 5-7 years India has at least 5 of its ports by container throughput in the top 40 ports.
The committee also suggested that major ports should consider suitable reduction in vessel related charges and make them at par with the charges prevailing in neighbouring foreign ports.
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