Cargo volume at major ports in India grew a mere 1.2 percent from April through February compared with a year earlier, according to preliminary traffic figures released by the Indian Ports Association.
The sluggish growth in the first 11 months of fiscal 2010-11 followed a 6 percent increase in throughput during the previous fiscal year that ended March 31, 2010.
Strikes and congestion stalled growth. Strikes in Cochin in December 2010 and February of this year crippled cargo movements there. The terminal authority at India's Port of Chennai in December temporarily suspended export cargo movements as congestion at its two marine terminals escalated. A drivers strike protesting congestion at a DP World terminal at the Port of Jawaharlal Nehru in September created serious delays to cargo moving through the country's largest maritime container gateway.
The 13 state-owned ports handled 515 million tons of cargo during April-February, up from 509 million tons in the year-ago period.
The latest IPA data indicates the ports of Kandla, Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva), Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Mormugao reported modest gains in overall traffic movements.
Major hubs that suffered declines in tonnage included Mumbai, Paradip, New Mangalore and Kolkata.
Kandla emerged as the top cargo handler with throughput of 75 million tons, followed by Visakhapatnam, at 61.5 million tons; Nehru, at 58.5 million tons; Chennai, at 55.7 million tons; Paradip, at 50.6 million tons; and Mumbai, at 49.89 million tons.
In related news, the Shipping Ministry said Tuesday major ports are expected to handle 615 million tons of cargo in fiscal 2011-12, which begins April 1, 2011.
Cargo volume moving through non-major ports is projected to be 261 million tons, taking the country's total ocean trade for 2011-12 to an estimated 876 million tons.
According to the ministry, container volume through major ports is likely to reach 11 million 20-foot equivalent units in 2011-12.