The Mormugao Port located in Goa, is a premier iron ore exporting port on the west coast of India. This port lies midway between the ports of Mumbai and New Mangalore. The port was commissioned in 1885 and is one amongst the 12 major ports of the country. In a major boost to connectivity, the metre guage railway of the port linking the south Central Railway was converted to broad guage in 1997.Following this, the Mormugao Port is accessible to any part of the country through the broad guage railway system.
P Mara Pandian, Chairman of Mormugao Port Trust (MPT)in response to queries raised by Raja Iyer, Research Analyst at ASAPP Media informed that the port expects to end the financial year 2012-13 with a cargo throughput of 17.30 million tonne (mn t).
"The greatest concern in port sector is capacity expansion, planning and the constraint imposed by land area for development, connectivity issues, creation of storage capacity, environmental clearance, etc."
Following is an excerpt of the interview:
The Port has been in a financial mess because of its overdependence on iron ore cargo. What are the steps being taken by it to overcome the crisis?
Of the total cargo handled at the port, iron ore used to constitute around 80 percent or above. This is due to ban on iron ore export by the Supreme Court of India effective from 5th October, 2012.
Port has drawn up ambitious plan to diversify the port from mono-commodity to multi-commodity rather than depending only on iron ore.
To attract other cargo from hinterland and other areas "Trade Meets" were conducted at Panaji in Goa and also at Belgaum, Kolhapur, Mumbai, Bangalore, Panaji, Bijapur, Hubli, Bhagalokot which forms parts of Port's hinterland. The response from the traders has been overwhelming. Port has already started handling granite since last year and wheat and maize during the current financial year. Further, wooden logs are also to be handled at the Port thus transforming from mono-commodity to multi-commodities.
In order to woo importers and exporters, there is a need to boost rail and road connectivity to the port. Can you tell us how superior the connectivity infrastructure of the port vis-avis is other ports in the country.
Yes, the greatest concern in port capacity expansion planning is the capacity constraint imposed by connectivity issues. Choked roads pose severe impediments to the Port directly affecting Port operations. The proper road and rail connectivity plays an important role in overall development. It increases the investor's confidence in PPP projects. Plus it reduces the cost of project as well as risk on capital.
Most of the ports are well connected with road and rail. Owing to this reason private participation in other ports is on the higher side. As far as Mormugao Port is concerned, it is lagging behind due to rail & road connectivity. As a result evacuation takes a little time.
Recently, Gammon Infrastructure secured a coal handling terminal contract for your port. When do you expect the construction of the project to be completed?
Concession Agreement signed with M/s Mormugao Seaport (now changed to M/s. Mormugao Terminals), SPV incorporated under Companies Act, 1956 on 18.01.2013. The conditions precedent shall have to be satisfied by both parties i.e. Concessionaire and Concession Authority with 180 days on signing of Agreement i.e. upto 17.07.2013. Thereafter, construction period shall be of 24 months.
In 2007, Halcrow Group submitted a business plan report for the port. Can you give us lowdown of the strategy followed by the port to implement the projects mentioned in the report.
The major project as per business plan was development of Vasco Bay. For this purpose the major hindrance in the way is shifting present fishing jetty and evacuation of fishing community.
What is your expectation of cargo handling in 2012-13 and 2013-14?
Owing to ban on iron ore export mined in Goa by the Supreme Court of India effective from October 5, 2012, the likely traffic handled at the port in 2012-13 is 17.30 million tonne. The target set by the ministry for the year 2013-14 is 19.00 million tonnes.
It is argued that terminal operators in major ports must be liberated from the tariff regime of TAMP in order to promote healthy competition. Can we know your stand on this issue?
Of late, many private ports have been developed with latest state-of-art infrastructure facilities, to attract market forces, which are controlled by State Maritime Boards. On the other hand, major ports also have been providing quality services to attract more throughput. For me it is improper to comment on this issue.
The shipping ministry was lagging far behind its project award target in 2011-12. Even in the current financial year project implementation has been slow because of lack of statutory clearances etc. What are your suggestions to fast track project implementation in the sector?
Ministry has done an excellent work by awarding lot of new projects.
Do you feel there is a need for setting up a body in the lines of NHAI for port sector that should be authorized to issue tax-free bonds in order to finance port projects?
In this matter, Ennore Port and JNPT have already issued tax-free bonds to raise capital of Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 2,000 crore respectively. Here, the advantage for the investor is that the money invested is fully exempted from income-tax.
What according to you are the problems ailing the port sector? What are the suggestions to overcome them?
The greatest concern in port sector is capacity expansion, planning and the constraint imposed by land area for development, connectivity issues, creation of storage capacity, environmental clearance, etc.