A week- long unprecedented heavy downpour
in the last days of July might have wrecked India’s biggest maritime state of Gujarat,
thank God, the rain god did not wreck the port and shipping sector.
For, while the minor and non-major ports which mainly include captive private jetties
remained a safe ‘haven” (interestingly haven also means port,harbour),Kandla port,
the state’s only major port and other bigger ports did handle less traffic, but
remained unmindful of it saying what is said in such situation in Hindi,’dekha
jaye ga”- No,problem,we will recoup the lost cargo.
Possessing the country’s longest
coastline-1600 km-Gujarat comprises three main regions, Kutch where
giants ports like Kandla and Mundra are situated, adjoining Saurashtra region
where another giant Pipavav and the world’s biggest ship breaking yard lay
and South Gujarat where ports like Hajira serving as captive ports.
Though south Gujarat is known for its highest rainfall since ages every monsoon,
this time monsoon remained centered around Saurashtra and Kutch receiving as
much as more than 80 per cent of monsoon’s total rains in the first two months
–June and July. The incessant rains flooded North Gujarat, Kutch and
Saurashtra totally paralyzing these regions and brining transportation to
a standstill.As a result 19 state highways, 102 other roads were closed. The
heavy downpour also badly affected rail services which totally cut between
Kutch and Ahmedabad .
Many shipping lines like NYK had to issue
advisory from Mumbai informing their customers about the worst developing
situation in Kutch and Saureshtra where key ports handled the country’s
largest chunk of EXIM cargo.For example,NYK stated in its advisory
that ‘the rail lines and road (national highway number 8-A)from
Samakhiyli junction which is some 40 km away from Kandla and Mundra ports
which together handled around 40 percent of the country’s export-import cargo
was severely damaged and all train movements stopped.It also said that railway
track on Mundra route had been washed away at Samakhiyali and Indian railways
had imposed restrictions on movement of to/from Mundra port.It also said that
the line expected slow cargo movement of both inbound and outbound cargo
from Mundra port.
But interestingly there was no
interruption in movement of container cargo from to and from Pipavav, the
country’s biggest private port in Saurashtra.How this could happen. When SS
contacted a GMB official at Jafrabad port he said that the coastal area did not
have torrential rains like they were in the central parts of the state and as
result handling operations continued to be normal.From South Gujarat another
GMB official said that the rains did not hamper handling movement. He said the
ports like Magdala remaining closed in the monsoon months because of their
being lighterage port, since there was no handling,there was no loss of any
Ankurbhai from the GMB
headquarters told this paper that no major damage to any non-major ports was
reported and there remained almost normalcy in handling of cargo.
Kandla, the major port, however reported
loss of around 4 lakh tons of traffic. A KPT official said that they normally
handled 1.20 lakh tons of cargo daily against which their handling was
around 60 to 70000 tons. ‘We were not much affected by rains. Handling of cargo
like timber logs and steel continued as it is, there was naturally some problem
in handling of wheat, soya extract sugar for obvious reasons. We were mainly
affected by break in the rail services because of rail tracks having been
washed aware near Malia.We used to handle four rakes and this handling was affected.
Our connectivity to northern India was through Banaskantha,but now things are
turning normal in this sector and it will take few days for restoration of
Malia connectivity which joins Kandla with Ahmedaba-Mumbai’the official
Confirming the drop in handling by 65 per
cent in the worst monsoon days in July,Traffic Manager Mukesh Balani told
that there would not be problem in handling more than 100 million tons of cargo
this year.We will surely be covering our loss ‘he added.
Kandla’s revamped container terminal run
by J M Baxi Group Company too did not have any problem in handling of containers,
but main problem was lack cargo. The container terminal’s local chief and vice
president Amardeep Singh said that terminal was all right in operation,but the
problem came in its rail movement from its hinterland as rail link was damaged.
There was a drop of 2000 containers during these days which worked out to 10
tons of cargo.
D V Maheshwari