Bhubaneswar: Despite sluggish growth in port sector due to global economic slowdown, the centre aims at raising the capacity of major ports by 250 million tonnes this fiscal overcoming the rough patch, Shipping Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi said today.

While the capacity of major ports is proposed to be increased by 250 million tonnes, the combined capacity of all ports would go up to by around 300 million tonnes, Trivedi said at the inauguration of “Portlore”, an event on Port, Logistics and Resources here.

Stating that the Maritime Agenda 2020 postulates 8.3 per cent combined growth in major ports and 16 per cent growth in non-major ports, he said the Shipping Ministry has already awarded 102 million tonnes capacity for April-December of thecurrent fiscal and the balance remains to be awarded.

Terming the present growth in major ports at around 3 per cent and non-major ports at 10-12 per cent as sluggish primarily due to global economic slowdown, the Shipping Secretary said now there are signs of recovery and the shipping sector is likely to witness substantial growth.

“The shipping sector has been passing through a rough patch … but I think in a year or two there will be substantial growth in shipping and port activities,” he said.

Of the total 30 projects that were to be awarded in this financial year in order to increase the port capacity, 20 projects worth Rs 6,000 crore have already been awarded for first nine months, Trivedi said.

Describing investment and connectivity as two major aspects of port and shipping sector, Trivedi said inland waterways and coastal traffic has immense potential which need to be tapped in order to decongest road and rail transport.

The shipping ministry is pressing for funds for water transport projects like inland waterways and coastal shipping projects under the flagship urban infrastructure augmentation programme – JNNURM, he said.

As the focus is on decongesting the road and rail corridors, funding for only buses in cities would not help.

Waterways can take the load off the traditional transport corridors, the shipping secretary said said.

A demonstration corridor for coastal shipping to ferry cargo is starting between Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, he said adding Food Corporation of India (FCI) will move foodgrains through sea route from Kakinada to Kochi and will transport about 20,000 tonnes of rice per month.

Source: IANS