India’s major ports’ cargo handling drops by almost 17% to 245 million tonnes in Apr-Aug, 2020

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The VLOC berth at China's Yantai Port. Courtesy: Yantai Port website

Disruptions caused by COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns, have caused a big drop in India’s major ports’ cargo handling capacity. According to the apex ports body IPA (Indian Ports Association), the cargo handling of the country’s major ports registered a dip of 16.56 per cent to 245.04 million tonnes between April and August this fiscal.

Cargo volumes at the 12 major ports under the control of the Centre declined for the fifth straight month in August 2020. All ports except Mormugao port at Goa saw a negative growth. These 12 ports had together handled 293.67 MT of cargo during April-August 2018-19, the Indian Ports Association (IPA) said in its latest data.

Ports like Chennai, Cochin and Kamrajar saw their cargo volumes nosedive about 30 per cent during April-August, while JNPT and Kolkata suffered a drop of over 20 per cent.

India has 12 major ports under the control of the central government — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia).

While Kamarajar port saw 31.64 per cent decline in cargo handling to 9.11 million tonnes, Chennai port suffered a drop of 30.36 per cent to 14.42 million tonnes in April-August, as per IPA data. Cochin Port saw a dip of 29.88 per cent to 10.04 million tonnes during the period.

Cargo handling at JNPT port slipped 25.53 per cent to 21.68 million tonnes, while the same at Kolkata declined 23.74 per cent to 20.65 million tonnes. Mumbai port logged a fall of 19.31 per cent to 20.15 million tonnes.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, sharp declines were witnessed in handling of containers, coal and POL (petroleum, oil and lubricant) among other commodities. These ports handle about 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic. The 12 ports handled 705 million tonnes of cargo last fiscal.

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