Benchmarking India’s Ports: National Ranking in the works as Private Ports thrive

India’s burgeoning private ports sector has spurred discussions within the Centre about instituting a national ranking for all ports, numbering around 230.

This initiative aims to assess the efficiency of major ports, owned by the central government, against non-major ports, under private and state government ownership.

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has conveyed its intention to create this comprehensive database, relying on factors such as market-survey perceptions, cargo traffic, idle time at berth, turnaround time, pre-berthing detention, ship berth day output, and port operating ratios. The ranking system draws inspiration from methodologies like the World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) and the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI).

India’s LPI ranking climbed five places to 39th in 2023.

The urgency for this benchmarking arises from the rapid ascent of private ports, raising concerns about the state-owned ports lagging in modernization despite substantial capacity expansion investments.

Private ports outpaced major ports in growth, with a 5.6% increase for major ports and nearly 11% for private ports in 2023-24. Notably, private ports witnessed a 20% growth in coastal cargo, while major ports experienced only a 1% growth.

The government’s internal estimates also indicate increased efficiency in bulk cargo terminals at major ports operating in public-private partnerships compared to those solely managed by port authorities.

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