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Poor infrastructure holding back imports

Over- dependence on iron ore over the past five decades has stymied development of import infrastructure at the port and connectivity in the rest of the state. Road development appears to be the main constraint for importers as far as Belgaum and Kolhapur who prefer to route goods through the Mumbai port. Consequently, the state is losing a large chunk of revenue, writes MICHAEL Fisher
The dependence on iron ore movement over the past 50 years has resulted in a neglect of import and export infrastructure for a varied list of commodities. The state has now realised that Goa is losing over Rs 100 crore a day in charges of freight and a list of taxes.
Prime Minister Narenda Modi is focusing on development of the country’s waterways. Nhava Sheva is set to receive a Rs 4,000 crore (about $654.6 million) upgrade. The government is also identifying bridges and roadways improvements that could boost its competitiveness.
It’s time for the Goa government to rethink and cash in on the map by Union Minister of Road, Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari to connect inland waterways from sea and develop minor ports, says Kaustubh K Kamat, executive member of Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Association India (FFFA) of Goa. Plans are in the works for new railways, development of inland waterways and new bridge projects to connect regions of India with each other.
If Indian engineers and architects can build islands in the Dubai Sea, what is stopping them from building a container berth/cruise terminal at Panjim Port, adding, it is a huge investment, but it is for a lifetime and into our next generation, he says.
Local infrastructure needs to be developed on a fast-tack with four-lane roads connectivity to the seaport of Mormugao and Panaji ports. Because of poor planning of the two Mandovi bridges, it is resulting to our dwindling industries and as a result the rest of hinterland is wasted. Revamp the bridges and build them higher for container ships with cargo to pass through to reach the hinterland, suggest stakeholders.
The government must realise that Goa ports can be an advantage for importers of Belgaum, Hubli, Dharwad and Kolhapur which are freighting their goods on a 450 km distance to Mumbai and Nhava Sheva whereas it take about 130 km to Goa.
In its Exim trade meet, MPT chairman Cyril George exhorted importers and exporters from Karnataka to channelize their trade through Mormugao Port emphasised that they stand at a geographical advantage since the port is located around 165 km from the Belgaum hinterland.
He said the dry port concept which is being planned will be established in Belgaum would benefit the traders to aggregate their export cargoes and later transport the same to Mormugao either by road or rail for export and vice-versa. This would not only save on time but will be very cost effective to the manufacturers since the distance between Belgaum and Goa would be comparatively less than JNPT or Mumbai, which is the present port of shipment for many exporters.
Due to the specific timing to enter the city of Vasco, bottlenecks are created at MPT, thereby affecting timely delivery of goods. Moreover, the four-lane highway connectivity to MPT stops at Sada, and the present connectivity is through the city of Vasco which is posing danger to the people of the city. With all these factors ahead it is difficult to use MPT.
Rakesh Unny, director, Integrated Sealand Services, Vasco, said the dedicated coastal container service operated by them between Mormugao Port and JNPT has started its coastal voyage from Goa to Nhava Sheva and vice-versa with a carrying capacity of 106 TEUs, calls every 5 days thus offering 6 sailings per month. In addition another two coastal feeder vessels calls this port on a fortnightly basis. The movements of the vessel are from Goa to Mundra and vice-verse with a carrying capacity of 630 TEUs each. Transit time is just two days from Goa to Mundra.
In the 90’s, Kamat had convinced cotton mills of Kolhapur to use the Goa port for import of cotton bales, which they did, but due to poor handling facilities and covered by coke and ore dust the Goan port was not fit to handle this potential of business of clean cargo. The distance to Nhava Sheva port from Kholapur is about 400 km compared with Goa’s 130 km.
Another importer Vikram Nayak says over 1000 container trucks are shuttling from Goa to Nhava Sheva port every three days carrying pharmaceutical products, while some return empty. Now with the government encouraging coastal services, “We hope pharmaceutical and importers take advantage of the new container vessel service from Goa to Nhavha Sheva port. Already it has done three voyages.
Kamat’s view that freight charges of shipping lines is too costly, for example, shippers from MPT the freight charges to Dubai is approximately $750 per 20 ft FCL and the transit time is approximately 14 days, whereas from Nhava Sheva it is about $150 per 20 ft FCL and the transit time is about three to four days. This is due to the Goa’s container traffic which is dependent on feeder services with the hub at Colombo.
Poor containerised rail service is another factor hindering efficiency at Goa port. It has been reported that in the 2013-14 fiscal year, total cargo handled at Indian ports increased by 4.3 per cent to 976 million tonnes, but Goa’s contribution is nil. Goan ports have been steadily losing market share to Mumhai ports due to inadequate harbour depth and berthing facilities.
A growing dearth for want of jobs coming from industries over the past 15 years has eliminated lakhs of jobs, with manufacturing particularly hard-hit.
For import of gold jewellery, the government should put up a SEZ inviting jewellery manufactures to Goa. Since it is an environment-friendly industry it will be viable, says Ulhas director Vikram Velekar.
With rising volumes of imported goods entering the state via rail and road, the Goa Government is working out plans to build a container line and berth facility in Panjim Port to increase imports directly to Goa. With the new container berth, the Panjim harbour will serve importers and exporters of land-locked states such as Karwar, Belgaum, and Hubli which are among India’s fastest-growing economies.
According to Custom statics import revenue share has increased by 58.51 per cent to Rs 821.65 crore in 2013-14 from Rs 763.14 crore in 2012-13. This indicates the demand for imported goods to the state. The Goa Custom revenue target for 2014-15 is Rs 1,055 crore. As on September 2014-15, custom revenues collection showed Rs 356.19 for both imports and exports. Recently, BX Furtado had to pay a huge import duty for importing a piano costing Rs 1 crore.

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