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Monsoon wrecks Gujarat, but not its ports

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 traffic.

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 said. 

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


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