Poor infrastructure, traffic congestion, red-tapism and shipment delays due to mismanagement at Indian ports could be a thing of the past, once the state-owned ports get a corporate identity.
Having tasted success at the Ennore port, the government has decided to corporatise major ports in India to make each a profitable venture. Ennore Port, a Mini Ratna set up in 2001 as a public company, is the only corporate port in the country so far.
The exercise will begin in a phased manner with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Maharashtra. It is likely to be followed by Kolkata, Paradip, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Tuticorin, Kochi, Mumbai, Mormugao, Kandla and New Mangalore.
The 12 ports together can handle 500 million tonnes of cargo annually.
“It has been decided in-principle to corporatise major ports in a phased manner, which is likely to begin in the next fiscal with JNPT, Mumbai,” secretary, ministry of shipping, K Mohandas said.
Corporatisation is expected to ensure better management of the ports, which are at present administered by trusts under the Major Port Trust Act, 1963. Tariffs are decided by the Tariff Authority of Major Ports, which too will change and corporate ports will be free to fix tariffs.
They can also raise funds through public issues, instead of depending on the government."It is a welcoming step, and benefits everyone and exports will go up considerably," said Arvind Saxena, director (marketing & sales), Hyundai Motor India Ltd — the largest automobile exporter in the country.
“The prime minister had called for corporatisation,” a ministry source said. “We have asked JNPT to submit a roadmap. The process will begin on April 1.”
Trade unions are reportedly opposed to the move. “It will be ensured that workers don’t lose jobs or benefits due to the change in administration after corporatisation,” Mohandas said.