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India: Shipping Ministry looks to make govt ports competitive against pvt peers

The government will strengthen capacity and technology at state-owned ports to make them competitive against their private peers.
“A presentation on steps to be taken to compete with private/non-major ports talked about increasing competitiveness in the port sector and the positioning of major ports versus the non-major ports in India,” said a statement by the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways on Tuesday.
Union mi nister Sarbananda Sonowal asked the authorities to make a plan for mega ports by 2047. Along with capacity building, he also suggested major ports draft land policy guidelines and explore the potential of building presence out of their limits.

The plans were discussed at a three-day annual ‘Chintan Baithak’, where the ministry sets the agenda for the fiscal year. The government will also focus on the development of new technologies at major ports,

“Application of various cutting-edge technologies such as drone surveillance, internet of things, artificial intelligence, etc, can significantly improve operations at Indian ports,” said the statement.

Private ports such as Mundra are growing fast, with a cargo volume of 150 million metric tonne (mmt) in 2021-22. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones (APSEZ) ports had a combined volume 300 mmt in the fiscal year. India’s 13 major ports had a combined cargo traffic of over 700 mmt in the year.

Sector experts have said that delayed evacuation of cargo and ports and their capacity to handle containers is a challenge. The three-day session also saw various discussions on public-private-partnership (PPP), a route the ministry is pursuing to attract investments at its ports. Business Standard previously reported that the delayed nature of security clearances from stakeholder ministries such as Home Affairs, Defence, and External Affairs has been a major sore point.

The ministry undertook the monetisation of 13 port assets worth Rs 7000 crore, out of which it had achieved Rs 1000 crore at the end of 2021-22. The ministry hopes to speed up that target as it encourages public-private partnership efforts, said officials.
Source: Business Standard

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