The major ports under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways registered an impressive growth in traffic movement of around 7 per cent (year on year) during 2021-22 over the previous year. Further, the Inland Waterways Authority of India, the statutory body in charge of waterways in the country, transported a total of 105 million tonnes (mt) of cargo through the national waterways, registering an impressive increase of 25.61 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
However, the traffic handled at Indian ports was severely impacted during the last quarter of 2019-20 and 2020-21 owing to the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. The annual rate of increase declined drastically during this period. While the traffic handled was impacted, cargo traffic at Indian ports started gaining momentum from June 2020 onwards. With the situation getting back on course, port sector operations too started witnessing positive growth.
Indian Infrastructure takes a look at the trends in traffic handled at the major and non-major ports…
Traffic trends at major ports
The major ports reported a traffic movement of 719.38 mt in 2021-22. This is 6.94 per cent higher than the 672.68 mt of traffic movement witnessed in 2020-21. The 13 major ports handled over 95 per cent of the country’s export-import cargo, with Navi Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) accounting for over half the cargo volumes. This is the highest ever traffic growth at the major ports in India.
The five major ports of the country recorded their highest ever traffic during 2021-22. These ports were Kamarajar port, JNPT, Deendayal port, Mumbai port and Cochin port. Kamarajar port registered a traffic increase of 49.63 per cent in 2021-22 over the previous year. JNPT achieved the highest ever traffic during the same period, with an impressive growth of 17.27 per cent over the previous year. Deendayal port too clocked an impressive growth of 8.11 per cent during 2021-22. This is its highest ever traffic handled. Mumbai port marked an increase in traffic of 11.46 per cent. And Cochin port recorded a growth of 9.68 per cent on a year-on-year basis. This is Cochin port’s highest ever traffic achieved
V.O. Chidambaranar (VOC) port handled a cargo traffic of 34.12 mt as against the previous year’s achievement of 31.79 mt, registering a growth of 7.33 per cent. Imports accounted for 24.19 mt, an increase of 7.42 per cent, while exports accounted for 9.45 mt, registering a growth of 2.83 per cent, and transshipment accounted for 0.48 mt. The port surpassed the 34 mt target set by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. VOC port also witnessed improved performance in terms of operational efficiency. The average pre-berthing detention time decreased considerably, from 13.44 hours during 2020-21 to 11.52 hours during 2021-22. Further, ship-berth-day output increased from 15,696 tonnes during 2020-21 to 16,811 tonnes during 2021-22.
In another landmark achievement, JNPT, India’s premier container port, handled 5.68 million twenty-foot equipment units (TEUs) during 2021-22 as against 4.68 million TEUs in 2020-21, marking an increase of 21.55 per cent. This performance is the highest ever at JNPT for any financial year. The previous best of was 5.13 TEUs in 2018-19. The total traffic handled at JNPT during 2021-22 was 76 mt as against 64.81 mt during 2020-21, an increase of 17.27 per cent. In terms of TEUs, out of the total container traffic handled at JNPT during 2021-22, 1,244,694 TEUs was handled at Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT); 1,186,181 TEUs at Nhava Sheva International Gateway Terminal (NSIGT); 1,865,587 TEUs at APM Terminals Mumbai; 947,887 TEUs at Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal; and 440,210 TEUs at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal. Additionally, during 2021-22, JNPT handled 6,278 container rakes and 1,007,667 TEUs as compared to 6,092 rakes and 921,512 TEUs in 2020-21. Also, during 2021-22, two container terminals – NSIGT and BMCT – crossed the 1 million TEU mark for the first time, handling 1.186 million TEUs and 1.245 million TEUs respectively. The annual growth registered by NSIGT stood at 52.12 per cent and that of BMCT stood at 33.39 per cent.
Chennai and Kamarajar ports jointly handled 87.3 mt of cargo traffic in 2021-22, registering a growth of 25.8 per cent over the previous year’s cumulative cargo of 69.4 mt. Chennai port handled 48.56 mt of cargo while Kamarajar port handled 38.74 mt. These two ports together handled 2,082,575 TEUs in 2021-22 as compared to 1,586,810 TEUs in 2020-21, up by 31.2 per cent. The cargo profile of Chennai port comprises 64 per cent containers, 27 per cent liquid bulk, 5 per cent dry bulk and 4 per cent break bulk cargo. Kamarajar port’s cargo profile constitutes 57 per cent dry bulk, 24 per cent containers, 13 per cent liquid cargo and 6 per cent break bulk cargo. On the exports front, the two ports shipped 306,184 units of automobiles, up from 223,920 units in 2020-21, registering a cumulative increase of 36.7 per cent.
In another stellar performance, Cochin port handled a record cargo of 34.55 mt during 2021-22, registering a growth of 9.68 per cent over 2020-21. In terms of container handling, it recorded the highest ever throughput of 0.74 million TEUs, which marked a growth of 6.65 per cent over 2021-21. Further, in terms of petrol, oil and lubricants, the throughput rose to 21.07 mt in 2021-22, reflecting a growth of around 13 per cent over 2020-21.
Traffic trends at non-major ports
The cargo traffic handled at the non-major ports from April 2021 to February 2022 was recorded at 538.98 mt. This was an increase of 4.1 per cent over the 517.87 mt cargo handled from April 2020 to February 2021. The overseas cargo traffic handled at the non-major ports from April 2021 to February 2022 increased from 450.74 mt to 459.12 mt, registering an increase of 1.9 per cent. Additionally, the coastal cargo traffic handled at the non-major ports during the same period increased by 19 per cent to 79.86 mt from 67.13 mt during the period April 2020 to February 2021.
During the period April 2021 to February 2022, the Kerala Maritime Board recorded the highest growth in traffic at 227.1 per cent over April 2020-February 2021, followed by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (29.3 per cent); the Port Management Board, Andaman & Nicobar Islands (5.1 per cent); and the Gujarat Maritime Board (5 per cent). Meanwhile, the state maritime boards/directorates that recorded negative growth in traffic during this period were the Directorate of Ports, Puducherry (-22.3 per cent); the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board (-17.3 per cent); Captain of Ports, Goa (-12.6 per cent); the Directorate of Ports, Karnataka (-5.5 per cent), the Directorate of Ports, Odisha (-2.8 per cent) and the Andhra Pradesh Maritime Board (-2.4 per cent).
In terms of cargo handled from April 2021 to February 2022, among the state maritime boards/directorates, the Gujarat Maritime Board handled the maximum cargo of 365.7 mt with a share of 67.9 per cent, followed by the Andhra Pradesh Maritime Board (14.7 per cent); the Maharashtra Maritime Board (7.8 per cent); the Directorate of Ports, Odisha (7 per cent); the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board (1.3 per cent); the Directorate of Ports, Puducherry (0.9 per cent); Andaman & Nicobar Islands (0.3 per cent) and the Directorate of Ports Karnataka (0.1 per cent).
The increasing traffic at Indian ports points towards a healthy outlook for the port sector. The ongoing decade could well be a golden decade for the sector with positive government policy interventions, private sector capital infusion, and holistic and inclusive development with efficiency, job creation and innovation.