Interview with Neeraj Bansal: “JNPT is focused on creating an enabling environment for trade to flourish”

“JNPT is focused on creating an enabling environment for trade to flourish”

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) is the biggest container handling port in the country. The past year has been an important one for the port. It has taken several initiatives to add capacity, improve connectivity as well as promote the ease of doing business. Neeraj Bansal, chairman-in-charge, JNPT, highlights the performance of the port in the past year, key initiatives, issues and challenges being faced, and plans for the future…

What were the major developments at JNPT in the past year?

The past year has been a year of excellence at JNPT. The largest container terminal in the country achieved a new milestone of recording the highest volume at 4.83 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the year ended March 2018. The port also became the first major port in the country to record a profit of Rs 14 billion in the year. The first phase of the fourth container terminal was e-launched by the prime minister. This is a state-of-the-art terminal where large-size ships can call.

JNPT is also very proud that there has been an excellent response from trade to the direct port delivery (DPD) scheme, as close to 40 per cent of the total imported cargo is moved out under the scheme and 1,600 importers have opted for DPD.

JNPT is focused on creating an enabling environment for trade to flourish. Further, logistics issues are handled efficiently so that the Make in India programme becomes a reality with a reduction in logistics costs.

What has been the impact of the DPD facility launched at the port? How has it benefited importers and business partners? Has it adversely affected the development of container freight stations (CFSs) around the port?

As already mentioned, an overwhelming majority of importers (1,600) have opted for the DPD facility as it results in faster and more economical movement of cargo from the port to the final destination. While the earlier system took more than a week for cargo to be moved out of the port/CFSs, the DPD system takes less than 48 hours. So, there is a saving in inventory costs, as well as in time and overall cost. This, in turn, reduces the manufacturing cost too and Indian goods become more competitive at the global level. As there is a huge volume of cargo that will be waiting to be transported out of the port, CFSs will continue to enjoy a substantial amount of business. With the economy slated to grow at more than 7 per cent on an annual basis, the volume of imports too will see significant growth and business will be there for all.

What have been the ease of doing business measures taken by JNPT?

JNPT is focused on creating an enabling environment for trade and has implemented several ease of doing business initiatives starting with the introduction of a paperless process of entry of cargo into port gates. These steps have been implemented with a view to streamlining and facilitating seamless cargo movement. The main focus has been on reducing container dwell time and the cost of exim trade. Facilitating paperless transactions is a key area which has not only saved time but increased transparency as well. JNPT has also provided unconditional DPD to all clients under the DPD client programme, which ensures that the trade does not have to bear unnecessary delays, storage costs and inventory costs.

After the introduction of radio frequency identification-based gate systems, entry time has been reduced to a few minutes from the earlier system when it used to take half an hour or so. As a part of the ongoing measures to boost trade, JNPT has been continuously upgrading infrastructure facilities at the port to enable faster movement of cargo.

With the fourth container terminal operational, what is the expected level of growth?

With the completion of the first phase of the fourth terminal, the capacity at JNPT will go up to more than 7 million TEUs from the current level of about 5 million TEUs. JNPT has been recording sustained growth over the years and this trend will only accelerate with the operationalisation of the fourth terminal.

What is the update on the upcoming projects at the port (dry ports, new berths and terminals, port connectivity, special economic zone (SEZ), dredging, etc.)? What will be the likely capacity addition and investment? 

JNPT is setting up four dry ports – Jalna, Wardha, Sangli and Nashik – with a view to facilitate faster movement of cargo from the hinterland to the port. Besides, the setting up of dry ports will also spur industrial growth in these regions. The dry ports will increase the supply of cargo to the port as its capacity gets expanded in the coming years. JNPT is also improving its road infrastructure in a major way, which will further improve connectivity to the port.

JNPT is setting up an SEZ on 277 hectares of land and the initial response has been very good. It is expecting global majors to set up their manufacturing base at the SEZ, which will act as a captive supplier of cargo to the port. Both Indian corporates and foreign companies have shown substantial interest and JNPT expects good traction from this year. The SEZ will also create direct and indirect employment for more than 0.12 million people, thus benefiting the locals, and will lead to economic development in the region.

JNPT’s total capacity will be expanded to 10 million TEUs by 2022.

What is your view on the Indian port sector and its growth potential?

The central government has laid great emphasis on port-led growth and is encouraging major ports to implement capacity addition and efficiency improvement measures aimed at reducing logistics costs to industry. India is blessed with a very good coastline and the government is keen on harnessing the potential of ports to the maximum. JNPT is confident that port-led economic growth will both bring benefits to exim trade as well as contribute to the overall growth of the economy.

What will be JNPT’s key focus areas for the next two-three years?

JNPT is on the cusp of executing many projects so that its total capacity expands to 10 million TEUs by 2022. The port is also continuously implementing measures aimed at boosting the ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment for trade to flourish. The focus for JNPT in the next few years will be to meet global standards and emerge as one of the leading ports in the world.

What are the major issues and challenges being faced by JNPT?

When big and substantial changes like the DPD scheme with innovative transport solutions and direct port entry system are being implemented, it is natural that there will be some disruptions. JNPT is keen to reduce logistics costs to trade to contribute to the manufacturing process and make India a manufacturing hub for the world. JNPT is committed to creating value for trade so that the port emerges as the preferred port of call.