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Stagnancy in througput, Kolkata port may lose cargo volume

Nepal and Bhutan, two major buyers of Kolkata port service, are shifting their choice to Chittagong and Mongla port of Bangladesh to handle cargo of their third country trade.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Apr 10, 2013, 04.04 PM IST
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SILIGURI: Under stagnancy in service throughput, Kolkata port is under yet another major threat of further losing its cargo volume in the newer future. Nepal and Bhutan, two major buyers of Kolkata port service, are shifting their choice to Chittagong and Mongla port of Bangladesh to handle cargo of their third country trade.

According to the Ministry of Shipping statistics, India's national port throughput growth during the period April to December 2012 was recorded as 9.4% over same period previous year. Against 370.85 MT (Million Ton) during the period in 2011, it has been recorded as 405.28 MT during same period 2012. "The trend remained almost same during yet to be computed period of Jan to March 2013," said officials in the ministry.

Against this, throughput of Kolkata port, comprising of Kolkata Dock System (KDS) on the eastern bank and Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) on the western bank of river Hooghly, remained 28.77 MT during April -Dec 2012 over 30.41MT in same period 2011- showing a de-growth of around 0.5%.

During the period, from 2000-01 to 2008-09, Kolkata Port increased its cargo volume by 80%. But, traffic decreased since 2009-10 mainly due to commissioning of Paradip - Haldia Crude pipeline and also due to decline in shipping of Iron Ore, Coking Coal, etc., due to draft restriction in this only riverine major port of India.

But, yet another major crisis is in waiting. "Kolkata port is heavily used, congested and suffering from siltation. So, Mongla and Chittagong port in Bangladesh, being at shorter distance from Nepal or Bhutan than Kolkata, are now suitable alternatives for us," exporters from Bangladesh told ET at Indo-Bangla notified Dry Port Changrabandha. Importers from Nepal also echoed the same.

"Bangladesh ports have adequate cargo handling facility and our Government is always interested to let others use this," Bangladesh High Commissioner to India, Tariq A Karim said while talking to ET earlier.

Being landlocked, Nepal and Bhutan, both are highly dependent on Kolkata port. Nepal and Bhutan together uses the port for 2.5 million tons of exim cargo.

But, "The trade dynamics in this part of the world demands a change. Economics and convenience are playing main role behind the shift in choice," said a senior member of Nepal Chamber of commerce. And definitely, this shift is going to make the situation tougher for near 140 years old Kolkata port.

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