Changing Indian Port Scenario - Impact on Cochin Port
The last session of the 5th edition of the CEO FORUM Breakfast Meeting was held on Friday the 12th of February, 2021. Dr. M. Beena I.A.S, the Chairperson of the Cochin Port trust was the Guest Speaker at this Session.
Mr. K. Harikumar, President of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce & Industry delivered the Welcome Address and introduced Dr. Beena to the CEOs of the Forum. Mr. Harikumar also briefly outlined the activities of the Chamber during the past month.
Adv. P.M. Prabhakaran of Lakshmi Kumaran & Sridharan, Bangalore, a new member of the Chamber was invited to address the Forum and introduce himself and the organization he represents. Adv. Prabhakaran thanked the Chamber for the opportunity and spoke briefly about his firm.
Dr. Beena commenced her address by thanking the Cochin Chamber and Mr. C.S. Kartha, Executive Committee Member of the Chamber, for inviting her to be the Guest Speaker for this session. Dr. Beena called the group of CEOs present at the session a group of power-packed people with heritage. She thanked the President for the excellent introductory address and said that he had touched upon most of the topics she wished to speak about.
Dr. Beena said that the Cochin Port is one of the 12 Major Ports in India. The concept of Major and Minor Ports are slightly confusing, as there are Ports like the Mudra Port which is not a Minor Port but nevertheless it is called a Minor Port because it does not belong to the Major Ports Club. The Ports that belong to the Major Ports Club are the old ones and they are all controlled by the Central Government. The Minor Ports are ports controlled by State Governments, she said. As of now, in India, there are 12 Major Ports and 205 odd non-major Ports, which together cater to 95% of India’s trade by volume and 75% by value.
Dr. Beena then gave a brief introduction as to how Cochin Port is doing. She explained, that the Cochin Port in terms of cargo volume, handles around 5% of the total Indian Cargo. However, the Cochin Port has been steadily increasing the Cargo volumes it has been handling for the last 4 years consistently. The Cochin Port, in total, handled 34 million metric tons of cargo last year which was an increase from the 31 million metric tons and 25 million metric tons of cargo which the Cochin Port handled during the previous years. Last year when the Port handled 34 million metric tons of cargo, the Cochin Port was the 2nd fastest-growing Port in India, she said. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a huge dip in the volume of cargo handled by the port, especially during the first 4 months. Dr. Beena said, in spite of the crisis, there has been a steady increase in trade during the last couple of months.
The most promising thing we see now in terms of trade is the movement of containers, which for the past 3 months, has been crossing 70,000 which is a record in the Cochin Port, she said. Dr. Beena also emphasized that the Cochin Port has a very good Port management system and in terms of efficiency, the Cochin Port is right up there with its competitors, if not the best in India. The next point where the Port activities get quantitatively compared is the turnaround time of ships, and the Cochin Port excels in this by having the shortest turnaround time in all of the 12 Major Ports in India.
Dr. Been later spoke about the Major Port Trust Act, which is now being changed to Major Port Authorities like in other countries. She then explained the main differences between the TAMP (Tariff Authority) which fixes the rates in all the Major Ports and the new Act which replaces it.
A few of the more important MOUs signed by the Cochin Port recently were also highlighted by Dr. Beena. MOUs signed between the Cochin Port and IGTPL for a FTWZ, Cryogenic Warehouse at Puthu Vypin SEZ, ICD services between Kottayam Port and the Cochin Port for inland cargo movement, MOUs signed with cement companies, etc. were also explained in detail by Dr. Beena. She also said that a variety of new facilities and projects are coming up in conjunction with the Cochin Port and informed the meeting that a total of 27 MOUs have been signed to the tune of Rs. 3313 crores.
One of the more important developments that the Cochin Port wants to highlight is the Vision of the Port Authority to develop and bring investments to port lands. Dr. Beena welcomed proposals for hospitals and other infrastructural investments to promote the tourism sector etc. to the Cochin Port in her address.
Concluding her address, Dr. Beena said that the Cochin Port has officially received funds for the development of the Thopumpady Fisheries Hub which has been neglected for a very long time. She encouraged everyone in the forum to come up with ideas and proposals and discuss the same with her, for the benefit of trade and industry and the Cochin Port.
The address by Dr. Beena was followed up by a variety of questions from the CEOs at the Forum.
Mr. P.M. Veeramani, Vice-President of the Cochin Chamber wound up the meeting with a Vote of Thanks.
The session was attended by around 30 CEOs.