Thermal coal imports at major ports fall 16% to 55 million tonnes in Apr-Dec: IPA

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

Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact cargo movement in India with thermal coal imports at 12 major ports declining 16.43 per cent year-on-year to 55.16 million tonnes in April-December 2020 period, according to Indian Ports Association (IPA).

Coking coal handling dropped by 12.13 per cent to 36.96 million tonnes during the April-December period of the current fiscal. Coal volumes at the 12 major ports declined for the ninth straight month in December 2020, as per the Indian Ports Association (IPA).

These ports had handled 66 million tonnes of thermal coal and 42 million tonnes of coking coal in April-December period of the previous financial year.

Thermal coal is the mainstay of India’s energy programme as 70 per cent of power generation is dependent on the dry fuel while coking coal is used mainly for making steel. India is the third-largest producer of coal after China and the US. It has 299 billion tonnes of resources and 123 billion tonnes of proven reserves, which may last for over 100 years.

In the wake of the pandemic, sharp declines were also witnessed in handling of containers, coal and POL (Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant), among other commodities.

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).

These ports handle about 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic. They handled 705 million tonnes of cargo last fiscal. Adversely impacted by the pandemic, these 12 ports witnessed a considerable decline in cargo traffic for the eighth straight month in November. Recently, Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the cargo traffic at 12 major ports declined considerably from March 2020 onwards due to the adverse impact of the pandemic.

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