The Indian Shipping Ministry said it plans to augment the country's overall port capacity from the current 1 billion tons to 3.5 billion tons over the next 10 years.
The announcement came after the ministry held a meeting with senior officials of the Maritime Development Council in New Delhi Monday to review progress of ongoing port developmental projects and identify priority areas.
"Indian ports will have to handle an estimated traffic volume of 2.5 billion tons by 2020. Hence, the port capacity should go up to at least 3.5 billion tons so that ports are geared up to handle this traffic. This will help curb all kinds of delays and queuing at ports," the ministry said.
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The ministry called for increased emphasis on development of minor ports by state government authorities through private participation. "The contribution of non-major ports in cargo handling was almost 30 percent of total traffic handled by the port sector in fiscal 2008-09," it said.
Under a seven-year National Maritime Development Program (2005 to 2012), the government earlier announced plans to spend about $12 billion to implement various capacity expansion projects, of which $8 billion is expected to come from the private sector.
Major public-private-partnership projects that are in the pipeline include a fourth container terminal at the Port of Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru), the country's largest container gateway, and a 4-million-TEU deep-water facility at Chennai, for which bidding is underway.
Other issues that arose at the meeting included the formation of state maritime boards, mechanism to curb environmental hazards, port security measures and contingency plans for accidents such as oil spills.
India has 13 major ports and nearly 200 minor ports located along its 4,600 miles of coastline. Consolidated cargo tonnage for fiscal 2009-10 was estimated at 845 million tons, up 13.6 percent from a year earlier.