Mormugao Port asked to focus on cruise terminal, other business
The shipping ministry has instructed the government-controlled port to develop the port as a cruise terminal to tide over the crisis.
With no solution in sight regarding the iron ore mining and iron ore exports after Supreme Court's intervention, the ministry also wants the port to now look at handling alternate cargos such as pharmaceuticals, fertilisers and petroleum to boost revenues. Mormugao Port was designed mainly for the handling of iron ore cargo since its inception in 1888, but the ban on mining and export of iron ore by the Supreme Court had affected cargo volumes as it fell 77% in the past year.
"A major component of cargo at Mormugao Port was iron ore. Now, with the Supreme Court putting a ban on the exports of iron ore, we have asked the port to look at alternate sources of revenue. We have also instructed the port to look at cruise operations in a big way," a senior official at the ministry of shipping told ET.
Mormugao Port had joined the elite club of ports in India in 2010-11 when it handled 50 million tonnes of cargo in a year which was the peak period for the port since it started commercial operations in 1888. The port has now initiated talks with various cruise liners to call at the port as Goa is also a popular holiday destination.
"As part of our plan to develop cruise tourism, I have personally written to all the top cruise companies to come to Mormugao. We have developed a designated cruise terminal and we are positive that the port will be able to attract cruises. It is only during the monsoon when operations will be tough for cruise liners," said P Mara Pandiyan, chairman, MPT.
Last month, a parliamentary panel headed by Sitaram Yechury had also said Mormugao should look at cruise tourism for its future. "The panel recommends exploring the possibility of alternate cargo for ports and cruise tourism for Mormugao Port so that the negative growth at the port can be addressed," the panel suggested.
Mormugao Port has been unable to improve their handling of other cargo as a major portion of cargo rising from the hinterland has been unable to reach the port due to in adequate infrastructure including road and rail network.
Experts meanwhile said that the development of the port into a cruise terminal will be a challenge as cruise tourism has not kicked off in India as compared to many of the other countries.