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Non-major ports in the country have edged past major ports in cargo volumes growth over the past five years. Between 2012-13 and 2016-17, cargo at non-major ports witnessed a spike of 25 per cent compared with 18 per cent registered by major ports. Total cargo handled by major ports rose from 545.60 million tonnes (mt) in FY13 to 647.40 mt in FY17. Non-major ports in the same period logged higher growth as cargo volume expanded from 387.9 mt to 484.8 mt. In 1981, the share of non-major ports to overall traffic volumes was less than 10 per cent but by the end of FY16, their share had ramped up to 43 per cent. “Non-major ports have come up at strategic locations such as Mundra on the west coast and Krishnapatnam on the east coast as they are key to container business growth in India and have also extensively participated in optimizing hinterland connection such as rail and road operations”, Care Ratings stated in its report on the ports sector. An important shift observed in the past 10 years in port operations is the emergence of non-major ports in terms of cargo volume handled. This can be attributed to strategic location, modernized infrastructure and efficient operations of non-major ports. During April-August 2017, the 12 major ports handled 273.96 mt of cargo 3.3 per cent higher than 265.31 handled in the corresponding period of last fiscal.
In terms of cargo profile handled by major ports, 48 per cent of the total was solid cargoes which included iron-ore, coal, fertilizer and other cargo; 33 per cent was petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) and the remaining was in the form of container cargo.Seven ports- Kolkata, Paradip, Chennai, Cochin, New Mangalore, Mumbai and JNPT registered positive growth in traffic during the period. There are 12 major and about 200 minor and intermediate ports including 69 operational non-major ports, spread along the 7517-km coastline of India. The 12 major ports in the country have a combined total capacity of 1,065 mt while the capacity at non-major ports is roughly seven mt. This combined capacity of 1,765 mt at major and non-major ports is expected to be augmented to 2,500 mt by 2025. During 2016-17, capacity addition of 100 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) has been implemented across the 12 major ports. The Ministry of shipping through its major ports trust and entities like Shipping Corporation of India and Dredging Corporation is aiming to raise up to Rs. 50,000 crore of loans in dollar-denominated bonds. The government also expects the private sector to invest over Rs two lakh crore in the next 10 years out of which approximately Rs 36,000 crore will be towards major ports expansion and for the development of non-major and intermediate ports.