India’s largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, will be spending nearly Rs 500 crore in the next two-three years to beef up evacuation of cargo from the port and further increasing connectivity with the hinterland. This investment will go towards building a coastal shipping berth and a common railway yard.
At present, only about 18% of the cargo is moved out of JN Port through rail. However, the port plans to increase this share to 30% in the next few years. Also, in line with the central government’s thrust on coastal shipping and inland waterways, the port plans to have a dedicated berth which will enable it to offer faster movement of cargo at economical rates.
These investments are in addition to the nearly Rs 13,000 crore worth of projects that are currently underway at the port. The projects include an over Rs 7,900-crore fourth container terminal with 4.8 million TEU capacity, a Rs 2,000-crore dredging project to increase the draught of the port channel from the current 14-15 m and a Rs 3,000-crore JN Port road expansion project.
Also Read: Will GST benefit e-commerce in India?
Indeed, with these measures, JN Port is trying to hold onto its position of the largest container port and remain competitive with private ports, especially in the neighbouring state of Gujarat. However, analysts say, it will be a hard race against time.
Edelweiss, in a June 2016 report, said of late, JN Port has lost part of its north-bound market share to Mundra/Pipavav primarily due to capacity constraints and adverse pricing by cargo terminal operators, whose import charges are about 8-10% higher.
“Management initiatives are incentivising faster port evacuation through rail movement via CFS/ICDs and ensuring timely expansion. However, in the interim, Gujarat’s private ports may capture more of JNPT’s north-bound traffic (about 25% of volumes),” the report said.
JN Port deputy chairman Neeraj Bansal said the port is aware of the constraints, but, with the initiatives underway, it expects to continue on its growth trajectory. He said at present the port is facilitating movement of cargo through coastal route only during certain designated hours, and offers rebate in tariffs as per government guidelines to promote coastal shipping.
“We are now contemplating a dedicated berth for coastal shipping, which will have a green channel and will enable movement of cargo from one Indian port to another seamlessly. We will be awarding the contract for construction of a new jetty in the next five-six months,” he said. As for the railway yard, he said the port has already awarded the work for construction of the common rail yard to Indian Port Rail Company, under the ministry of shipping.