India Gets Record Port Investment After Freeing Tariff

India has secured a record 207 billion rupees ($3.4 billion) of investment in port projects after it deregulated tariffs.

The nation has awarded bids for thirty ports in the year ending March 31, Shipping Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi said in an interview. The value is more than three times greater than projects awarded in fiscal 2013, he said. The projects will add 217.6 million metric tons of annual cargo-handling capacity, according to the Ministry of Shipping.

The bids will ease congestion at Indian ports where the average turnaround time for ships was about three days in 2013, compared with about one day in Singapore and Shanghai, according to a report by Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers Ltd. They will also help India meet a 2020 target of more than doubling its port capacity to 3,200 million metric tons at an investment of 2.87 trillion rupees.

“Indian port capacity woefully falls short of demand in some sectors,” said Nripesh Kumar, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers India. “Considering its growth potential, there is a great scope to expand port capacities in India.”

In July last year, India stopped setting port tariffs and allowed future terminal projects at state-controlled major ports to raise rates with the proviso that performance goals are met.

This year, Singapore’s PSA International Pte won the largest order to build the fourth container terminal at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust for 79.1 billion rupees, marking its entry into India’s west coast. The company operates terminals at ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Tuticorin on the east coast, according to its website. Adani Ports and SEZ Ltd. won the bid for a 12.7 billion-rupee container terminal at the Ennore port in southern state of Tamil Nadu.

(Corrects value of Mumbai terminal order in last paragraph of story that ran on March 5.)
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