India Container Volume Flat in Fiscal 2012-13

India Container Volume Flat in Fiscal 2012-13

Container throughput at India’s major ports stayed relatively flat year-over-year in fiscal year 2012-13, which ended March 31, 2013, according to the latest provisional figures released by the Indian Ports Association.

Throughput at the 12 state-owned ports, which account for the majority of India’s exports and imports of containerized goods, was 7.71 million 20-foot-equivalent units, compared with 7.78 milion TEUs in fiscal 2011-12. Container tonnage in 2012-13 was also virtually flat, at 120 million tons.

Volume at the Port of Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva), which is in the midst of a major capacity expansion program, totaled 4.26 million TEUs, down 1 percent from a record 4.32 million TEUs in the previous year. “In addition to the ongoing economic slowdown, operational disruptions caused by labor unrest, congestion and harbor crane installation seriously impacted the port’s performance in the last fiscal year,” a port official said.

Traffic at the Port of Chennai, the country’s second-largest box handler, was estimated at 1.54 million TEUs, decreasing slightly from 1.56 million TEUs.

Kolkata Port’s box throughput increased 9 percent to 600,000 TEUs from 552,000 TEUs. Tuticorin Port handled 479,000 TEUs, up from 477,000 TEUs. Volume at Cochin Port slipped 3 percent to 326,000 TEUs from 336,000 TEUs.

At the same time, according to the IPA, total cargo tonnage at major ports in fiscal 2012-13 fell 2.6 percent year-over-year to 545.68 million tons, the lowest throughput in four years. Major ports handled 560.7 million tons of cargo in 2009-10; 570 million tons in 2010-11; and 560 million tons in 2011-12.

The Port of Kandla emerged as the top cargo handler in 2012-13, with throughput of 93.63 million tons, followed by Nehru, at 64.5 million tons; Visakhapatnam, at 59 million tons; Mumbai, at 58.04 million tons; Paradip, at 56.5 million tons; and Chennai, at 53.4 million tons.

Nehru Port chairman L. Radhakrishnan separately said the port authority is going ahead with various projects to improve infrastructure and expand capacity despite the traffic decline and the lukewarm response from the equity market to its recent issuance of tax-free bonds to help fund channel dredging.