The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the Shipping Ministry to declare Andaman and Nicobar ports as major port and established the Andaman and Nicobar Port Trust with its headquarters at Port Blair, said Union Minister of Shipping G K Vasan.
The strategic location of these Islands will help service large volumes of cargo and large vessel volumes for the neighbouring ASEAN countries.
The cabinet also approved to extend the applicability of the provisions of the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 to Andaman and Nicobar set of ports and to disband the Port Management Board to transfer its establishment to the proposed Port Trust. It also agreed to bifurcate the Andaman and Lakshadweep harbour works and transfer a part of its establishment to the A and N Port Trust and to take consequential actions with reference to the above declaration.
“The establishment of the Major Port Trust at Andaman and Nicobar islands is expected to give attention to the development of the backward areas of the island group by increasing commercial activities, encouraging tourism, attracting foreign direct investment, supporting Tsunami rehabilitation programmes and various developmental and welfare activities permitted under the provisions of the Major Port Trust Act, 1963,” Vasan said.
The existing major ports are Kolkata, Haldia, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Jawaharlal Nehru port, Ennore and Kandla.
The shipping activities at A&N Islands are currently managed by the Port Management Board, which is under the A&N Administration. Under the Central jurisdiction, the port now can access budgetary grants. It can be developed as a transhipment port such as Colombo, where majority of Indian cargoes are transhipped.
The administration has a fleet of 70-80 odd vessels — mostly passenger, some passenger-cum-cargo and some pure cargo.
According to the official Web site of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Shipping Corporation of India offers regular passenger services to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam and back. While there are three to four sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai, there’s a monthly trip from Visakhapatnam.