Need to develop all-weather deep-water port in India, says Tharoor in LS

He said the development of ports in India is “important” as ships carry 90 per cent of the world’s goods around the globe.


Shashi Tharoor | Ports  | trade

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday stressed on developing an all-weather deep-water port near international sea routes, saying “a vast majority” of container ships coming to India are transhipped to Colombo and elsewhere due to the lack of significant domestic ports here.

This has also given China a tremendous dominance in the Indian Ocean, he said in the Lok Sabha while participating in a discussion on demands of grants for the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

“Colombo is transhipping more Indian goods… than any of India’s major ports. In fact, all the so-called major ports (in India) put out together does not match that in Colombo,” Tharoor said.

“Now what’s worrying about this is (that) there is a serious geostrategic angle for us being dependent upon Colombo for such a large portion of our goods. Because it is, after all, a port where the Chinese are extremely active. A Chinese firm has just been awarded an eastern container terminal at Colombo port,” the former minister of state for external affairs added.

He said the development of ports in India is “important” as ships carry 90 per cent of the world’s goods around the globe.

“And, in India’s case, it’s even more because 95 per cent of the volume of cargo come to our country by shipping, not by any other means,” Tharoor added.

He said India has a wonderful and one of the most impressive coastlines in the world.

“We should have developed our ports, which I am sorry to say, we have not yet done so,” he said, adding it’s because the resources, given to the ministry by Parliament since 2017-18, remains “underutilised”

The Congress MP also questioned the government’s policy, saying “there is a piquant situation that India prohibits Chinese firms from investing in building our ports but in effect, we are condoning transhipment of the lion’s share of our cargo via a port operated exclusively by China”.

“And, where Chinese navy vessels and submarines were regularly calling for resupply,” he added.

Noting that shipping is growing bigger, he said larger ships require deeper ports. In the case of India, it has to be “unfortunately extremely expensive”, created through dredging, Tharoor said.

The major shipping lines are not stopping at Indian ports because of “very high” logistics cost involved, he said, adding, “This, in fact, means that our economy is helping to pay for foreign ports.”

Tharoor said the solution to the problem is available in his Lok Sabha constituency Thiruvananthapuram and urged the government to declare Vizhinjam port as “a major port”.

“The Vizhinjam port is an amazing place. It is right there in the international shipping lines and it has an extremely decent connection which can be improved by the government. It has a natural deep draft of 20-24 four metres,” he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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