Thursday , 20 February 2020
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Growth eases, KoPT feels slowdown heat

Kolkata: The slowdown seems to have touched the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) as its cargo handling has gone down suddenly in August, but the authorities expect a revival in demand during the remaining months of the year.

Till July, the growth of the port was 10 per cent in the current fiscal. However, if the KoPT’s performance for August is taken into account, the growth becomes 6.5 per cent, officials said on Wednesday.

There had been a decline in coking coal imports as steel demand is expected to remain sluggish, according to some analysts.

KoPT chairman Vinit Kumar pointed out that the port’s Exim takes a dip during the monsoon months, and hoped for a revival from October.

“We expect to register a growth of 10 per cent in cargo handling for the FY’20. In 2018-19, the port had handled 63.7 million tonnes of cargo registering growth a shade lower than 11 per cent,” Kumar said on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by the MCCI.

Meanwhile, L&T Consultancy which is preparing a master plan for the port for short, medium and long term capacity augmentation, is expected to submit its final report within the next two months.

“They had submitted their draft report and with our comments, we expect to get the final report in the next two months,” Kumar said.

KoPT was planning to augment its capacity from the existing 63 million tonnes to at least 90 million tonnes in a short term of 4-5 years.

KoPT has to be ready with a new capacity to cater to the projected additional cargo, as else they will shift to other neighbouring ports.

KoPT was banking on inland shipping growth with development of NW-1 and NW-2.

“A large number of barges will be needed in future and bank financing is a problem. The issue of financing barge operations has been raised at the ministry (of shipping) and the SBI,” Kumar said.

MCCI president Vishal Jhajharia said, banks do not consider barges as collateral and that poses as a hindrance to get financing.

Currently, there 65-70 barges are operating in the eastern region and the projected requirement would be three times that of fit, Jhajharia said.

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