labels: a f ferguson, confederation of indian industry, ports
Mindset change required for port sector development: CII study news
Our Economy Bureau
14 March 2003

Chennai: The central government and the states should discuss and work together to develop India’s port sector in a holistic manner, recommends a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Ferguson study. “The present practice of the centre taking care of the major ports and the states looking after the minor ports will not give the required results.”

The study, to be released at the two-day summit on ‘Infrastructure Development held by CII (southern region) in Chennai on 19-20 March 2003, looks at the southern port sector — both major and minor ports — and suggests way and means to improve ports profitability and efficiency.

Addressing the media B Sridhar, chairman, working group on ports, CII (SR), and director Bengal Tiger Line (India), said: “The key issue is to see that all the ports, particularly the minor ports, get sufficient traffic.”

Traditionally minor ports were established as a captive facility for a major industrial project. However, this changed with the minor ports competing with major ports for traffic and vice versa.

According to Sridhar, the country should also look at coastal shipping in a serious way as it is very cost-effective and will also decongest the roads.

It should be noted that traffic for minor ports and coastal shipping would increase only if industries are located in away from the state capitals. And if that has to happen, other infrastructure — road, communication network — should be there. Sadly nobody seems to address this issue. Even this CII seminar is more slanted towards major ports.

Speaking about the lenders’ perspective A Balasubramanian, member, working group on ports, CII (SR), and assistant vice president (operations), Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC), said: “There is a paradigm shift in lenders’ perspective. While world-class service quality is taken for granted we see whether the users are willing to pay the price proposed for such services.”

In China, the government acts like a venture capitalist. It restricts itself to the development of infrastructure while attracting the traffic for the ports and terminals, which are left for private players.

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Mindset change required for port sector development: CII study