A member of India’s advisory board on shipping has criticised government plans to set up a transhipment terminal in Kovalam.
Joe D’Cruz wrote to India’s shipping minister to say that the transhipment terminal model was now outdated and that, if India had wanted to do transhipment successfully, it should have invested in it 30 years ago.
“For a successful International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT), we need thousands of acres of land, millions of tonnes of cargo and contributing ports. The facilities are not there in Kanniyakumari district and cannot be developed even in future as the entire district is directly or indirectly agro- and fisheries based. There is no space for heavy industrialisation. Moreover, no Indian port, including the Tuticorin port, will be ready to send its import/export containers to Kovalam ICTT just for transhipment purpose,” he said.
Instead, he proposed that the government invest in fishing ports in the region.
For a country of its size and population, India has lagged far behind its rivals in terms of container throughput. One reason for this is that much of the transhipment for Indian cargo is done in Sri Lanka. A terminal in Kovalam, in the south of India, would aim to help ensure Indian cargo is transhipped in India.
South Indian container ports grew by 9% in 2017 and a South Indian transhipment terminal called DP World Gateway Terminal in Cochin achieved growth of 11%.