New norms to benefit major ports

New norms to benefit major ports

The Union government on Thursday unveiled new policy guidelines for major ports, aimed at helping them leverage their land resources for commercial advantage, Shipping Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi said here.

Trivedi said the new guidelines provide necessary regulatory framework for land allotment by major ports. These guidelines, he continued, have been drawn to help the ports to carry out leasing and licensing of port land in a transparent manner, said Trivedi while Participating in the annual conference on 'Ports In India' here.

Trivedi said discretionary powers have been reduced and tender-cum-auction has been prescribed as the most preferred method of allotment. 

Although major ports (around 12 of them) in India have between them 2.64 lakh acres of land, which is a major resource but till date the land utilization has not been optimum and often yielded lesser returns, Trivedi said. So, he added, the thrust of the new policy has been on linking the value of land with prevailing market rates.

Under the new policy guidelines, he pointed out, land can be allotted only through licensing in custom bond areas by inviting competitive bidding, while land outside custom bond areas can be leased through tender-cum-action.

There is also a provision to licence land outside custom bond areas, but it should be only for port related activities, the Shipping Secretary said. 

As such, the Boards of respective ports can approve leasing of land for a period up to 30 years, he said. For leasing of land beyond 30 years and up to 99 years, approval of the government has to be obtained through the mechanism of Empowered Committee.

 All the 12 major ports of the country are required to draw land use plan covering all land owned or managed by them. The new guidelines are applicable to all major ports in India except for the land relating to township areas in Mumbai, Kolkata and Kandla.

The new policy guidelines for land management are part of the on going process of port reforms and liberalisation. While major ports, owned by the Centre operate in a comparatively more regulated environment, the non-major ports, comprising state ports and private ports, enjoy substantial degree of flexibility.

The government has been working towards creating a level playing field for major and non-major ports.  Earlier, in 2013, tariff setting in major ports was liberalised and indexed to inflation and minimum efficiency standards were prescribed for cargo terminals.

The 12 major ports in India – Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia)  - handle approximately 61 per cent of cargo traffic.

During 2013-14, it has been planned to augment port capacity by 220 mtpa through 30 port projects. 

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