Ensuring uninterrupted rail road connectivity across 12 major ports of the country, the shipping ministry proposes to incorporate a new company to undertake rail projects at all the government owned ports. The proposed company, which will have equity participation from these ports, is expected to implement all new rail projects and also to undertake the existing rail line operations within the port area.
In this connection, the concerned minister has recently held a meeting with the head of government ports at a meeting in Mumbai recently. The proposed company will have an initial authorized capital of Rs. 100cr. As per current arrangements, rail projects at ports are implemented by special purpose vehicles created by individual ports with the support of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd., but the port projects often get delayed under this model. Even today ports in Mumbai and Kolkata operate their own rail lines including locos within the port area and maintain the rail lines themselves. Mumbai port railway handles around four million tons of cargo per annum and the proposed port rail infrastructure company is expected to take over all the railway operations within the port.
According to official sources, currently rail and road connectivity is a major problem at several ports for movement of cargo from and to ports and the delay in evacuation of imported cargo creates congestion at most ports. Even the current year's rail budget also indicated plans to implement new projects through public private participation. The ministry has asked chairmen of ports to ensure timely implementation of projects and assured them the freedom to take independent decisions within the powers under the Major Ports Act. He however, wants the port cargo capacity in the country to be doubled in the next five years from 800 million tons to 1,600 million tons. The capacity creation at major ports has been tardy in the past few years due to a variety of reasons and the new government is keen to remove the bottlenecks hampering the ports managements achieving their targeted cargo handling capacities.