The Visakhapatnam Port has fared relatively better compared to other major ports in ensuring near-normal handling of cargo during the nationwide lockdown, officials said.
The port witnessed a negative growth of -11% compared to other major ports which have witnessed a negative growth of -21%.
The port, which ranked third in the 2019-20 fiscal due to its innovative marketing strategies by handling a throughput of 72.72 million tonnes, is hopeful of putting up a reasonably good show this fiscal. The announcement of a ₹20 lakh crore economic package by the Central Government may also cheer up major ports in overcoming the crisis amid reports that the steel industry will show signs of recovery soon.
“We are working hard to do well during this crisis. We are aware of the difficult times ahead. Our cargo handling is nearly minus 11% as against minus 21% of the major ports in general till date compared to the corresponding period last year,” Visakhapatnam Port Trust Deputy Chairman P.L.Haranadh told.
Chennai port has seen a decline in cargo handling by 38%, while JNPT and Kochi have seen a decline of 33-34%, Kandla 23% and Paradip 10%.
He said one positive development was the demand for export of iron and steel to China from Visakhapatnam, mainly semis like billets and blooms and pig iron following closure of several industries there. He expects the trend to continue for a few months till Chinese steelmakers revive production.
Mr. Haranadh said that despite the pandemic, they had kept all areas of operations open to exports/imports and hoped that by handling almost 90% of the traffic that was handled last year, they would overcome the crisis from the second quarter onwards.
All the ports suffered heavy loss of petroleum cargo due to the fall in demand during lockdown. Overall container cargo handling also fell by four million tonnes.
Official sources said there was dip in POL by 2.5 million tonne, steam coal by another 2.5 million tonne. The total shortfall is about 13 million tonnes in April. Both in April and May, there was a drastic fall in stream coal imports as power consumption by industries nosedived due to the lockdown.