Kolkata port depth needs to be increased: Study

Kolkata, Dec 29 (IANS) Ageing infrastructure with limited water depth and the poor quality of services have restricted the progress of Kolkata port and the depth of the port needs to be increased, a study said.

According to the study on Indian ports by industry body Assocham and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the depth at Kolkata port needs to be increased to 14 metres to facilitate bigger ships.
“The draft in Kolkata port is inadequate for dealing with bigger ships, the use of which is an important component in reducing costs,” it said.
It also noted that the nation’s only riverine port is dogged by poor hinterland connections together with certain other challenges like old and inefficient cargo-handling systems, rigid institutional framework and high tariffs that are hampering its growth.
The strategic importance of Kolkata port is top of the agenda.
“The Kolkata port is strategically one of India’s most significant ports with a vast hinterland comprising eastern India that includes West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, north-eastern states and two countries – Nepal and Bhutan,” Assocham national general secretary D.S. Rawat said.
Also, with the proposed New Silk Route gaining momentum together with the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) corridor, the country’s oldest operating port is the nearest Indian port that can have a direct road link with China.
The study said there is also a need to get around red-tapism and increase the pace of dredging which has been inadequate.
“Poor quality of services and business attitude, along with overstaffing, lack of capacity and lack of extension possibilities are the other hurdles being faced by the Kolkata port,” the study said.
In fiscal year 2013-14, Kolkata port handled 41.386 million metric tons of cargo.
The union ministry for shipping, highways and road transport has offered Rs.12,000 crore for construction of a new port at Sagar Islands to increase the cargo handling capacity of West Bengal and an additional Rs.3,350 crore has been sanctioned for the development of the port sector in the state.
Container traffic at Indian ports increased at a compound annual growth rate of 13.5 percent during 2000-2001 to 2010-2011.