NEW DELHI: Cargo handling in ports saw a decline in 2011-12, the first in 10 years. In 2011-12, cargo handling fell 1.7 per cent, compared to that in 2010-11. In the past few years, it had seen an increase of two-five per cent.
Though the primary reason for the decline was a ban on iron ore exports, data for financial year 2011-12 shows other commodities not only failed to make up for the loss incurred due to the ban, their growth slowed to 3.4 per cent compared to the previous year.
In 2010-11, the iron ore ban had come into effect in July. In 2011-12, the effect of this was felt through the year, with major ports losing about 30 million tonnes of iron ore cargo. Owing to the ban taking a toll in three quarters of 2010-11, major ports registered an overall growth of just 1.6 per cent, compared with 5.68 per cent in the previous year.
Growth in petroleum cargo, which forms 30 per cent of the total exim cargo, remained flat at 0.06 per cent. The finished fertiliser category, too, fell 1.5 per cent in 2011-12. This has primarily been attributed to the increase in domestic production, which helped bring down the dependence on the import component of fertilisers. Contrary to finished fertilisers, raw materials in this category saw an increase of eight per cent.
Coking coal also contributed to the overall decline in the cargo handled. This segment recorded a fall of four per cent due to a fall in domestic steel production.
For 2012-13, the shipping ministry has set a target of six per cent growth over the previous year. “Ports are directly impacted by the global economy. We are setting targets based on the last year’s performance,” said a senior shipping ministry official.
Among the major ports, Mormugao, one of the highest handlers of iron ore cargo, was the worst-hit. It saw a decline of 22 per cent in overall cargo.Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Paradip port trusts also recorded falls in the total cargo handled during 2011-12.