Odisha government today urged the Centre to enhance cargo handling infrastructure in existing ports of the state so that transportation cost of major goods like coal can be reduced substantially. "I request the Union Ministry of Shipping to develop cargo handling infrastructure in the existing ports of Odisha namely Paradip, Dhamara and Gopalpur. Development of port infrastructure will add to the strength and viability of coastal shipping in the state," Odisha Chief Secretary A P Padhi said in his inaugural speech at a national level workshop on 'Promotion of Coastal Shipping and Inland Navigation in India'. He said transportation through coastal shipping is cost effective and environment friendly, and reduces the logistic cost of cargo, making the business more competitive in world market. Padhi said it is a matter of concern that these days the shipping and coastal route has taken a back seat in the transport sector, in spite of its comparative advantage over rail and road transport. He said development of coastal shipping through Sagaramala project will reduce congestion on rail and national highways. The chief secretary dwelt on the need for evacuation of coal from the mines of Mahanadi Coal Field area. MCL has enhanced its production and there is need for quicker evacuation of the excavated coal from its mining area, Padhi said requesting the Sagaramala project authorities to take initiative for evacuation of coal from the MCL mines to ports. Addressing the workshop, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Shipping, Rabindra Kumar Agarwal, said around 1 billion tons of coal will be mined in coming years out of which MCL alone will contribute around 25 per cent. Presently, 61 per cent of power plants in the country are thermal based, Agarwal said adding, there is need for increasing coal production and transportation. At times logistic cost of coal and other minerals becomes more than the cost of the mineral itself.
Only coastal shipping can reduce this cost to a large extent, he said. "Sagaramala is an ambitious national initiative aimed at brining about a step change in India's logistic sector performance. It aspires to achieve overall cost saving of Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 crore per annum through reduction of logistic cost for EXIM and domestic cargo," Agarwal said.