Level-playing field in port sector sought

New Delhi, March 29 | Updated: Mar 30 2005, 05:30am hrs
Ports need to be developed on the lines of the telecom sector, as they are the emerging success story after telecom. Transport specialist, IDFC, A Balasubramanium said that level-playing field between major ports and minor ports is required. For this, he said issues related to connectivity and inter- and intra-port competition, need to be worked out.

He was addressing a session on ports development at the India Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad professor, G Raghuram, while presenting a case study of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), said that though privatisation of JNPT was a major breakthrough in the port sector, certain problem areas still persist.

In competitive monitoring, there is no clarity of roles, which needs to be clearly defined. There should be more stake for private parties under build, operate, transfer scheme. There is also lack of incentive for private parties to invest in the sector, for this the terms of guarantee should change, he said.

Lead transport specialist with the World Bank, George Tharakan listed out certain key issues for port development in India. Rationalisation of container movements, he said will help alleviate some of the problems faced by ports.

Among other issues he said coal traffic, which mostly (95%) moves on railways should be shifted to inland waterways and coastal shipping. National Waterway 1 could be developed to serve the coal producing areas. For foodgrain movement also he suggested the same.

Most of the ports suffer from inadequate hinterland connectivity. For example rail connectivity is a problem at Nhava Sheva and Cochin. Thus waterways have the potential to relieve other modes and can also be developed with minimum land acquisition and displacement of people, he said.