The government today said it has declared Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar islands as a major port, taking the number of top state-owned ports in the country to 13, in a move aimed to boost maritime trade.
The port is of strategic importance to India and is closer to two international shipping lines, namely Saudi Arabia-Singapore and US-Singapore.
"All major provisions of the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963, have become applicable to the major port of Port Blair from June 1, 2010. With this, the Port Blair becomes the 13th major port of the country," an official statement said.
So far, the country had 12 major ports and 200 minor ones, of which 20-30 are privately owned. The other major ports are Kolkata (including the dock complex at Haldia), Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mumbai, Kandla and Ennore.
Port Blair will have territorial jurisdiction over 23 ports, including the East Island Port, Diglipur Port (Port Cornwalis), Mayabunder Port, Elphinston Harbour Rangat Port, Havelock Port and Neil Island Port, the statement said.
"A committee headed by the Joint Secretary (Ports), Ministry of Shipping, and Chairman, Tuticorin Port Trust, and four others as members has been constituted to identify the requirement of staff for Port Blair Port Trust and transfer of entire establishment of port management board to the Trust in consultation with the Andaman and Nicobar administration and Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works to the trust," it added.
The statement said the island's Chief Secretary, Arvind Ray, will hold the additional charge of Chairman, Port Blair Port Trust, till the regular incumbent takes charge.
Furthermore, the chief port administrator will hold an additional charge as Secretary, Port Blair Port Trust, till the regular incumbent is appointed.
It has also been decided to bifurcate Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works into Andaman Harbour works and Lakshadweep Harbour Works.
"The Andaman Harbour Works stands merged with Port Blair Port Trust and the Lakshadweep Harbour Works will now function under the direct control of the Ministry of Shipping, headed by the Deputy Chief Engineer, and with the status of subordinate office to the ministry," the statement added.
At present, the combined capacity of the existing 12 major ports is about 580 million tonnes per annum while the total capacity of minor ports is around 250 million tonnes per annum.