How Has Kolkata Port Complex Contributed to its Economic Growth?

Most port cities around the world are — or have been — some of the busiest commercial hubs. The key reasons that led to cities around ports to flourish are industrialization, employment, and major economic activities like import, export, finance, and logistics. The same is true for the City of Joy, which has enjoyed port-oriented business activities since the British era. Over the decades, the riverine port of Kolkata — the oldest port in the country — has steadily gained strategic importance to become a significant growth engine for Eastern India. As such the city’s ports continue to play a vital role in its development.

The Current State of Kolkata’s Ports and Their Impact on its Economy

During the past few years, the economic resurgence of Kolkata is quite visible, and there is no way to deny the influence of Kolkata’s riverine port systems in reviving the city’s economic position. At this point in time, when India is trying to make a mark as an economic superpower, both ports in Kolkata, the Kolkata Dock System, and the Haldia Dock Complex, are well-equipped and strategically placed to handle the country’s Eastbound cargo.

According to an article published in the Jan 2018 issue of the Maritime Gateway — India’s leading maritime publication:

The Kolkata Port Trust‏ (KoPT), in the financial year 2016-17, has registered a substantial growth in cargo traffic, mainly in the transit of machinery, crude oil, liquid cargo, LPG, thermal coal, cement, iron ore, limestone, fly ash, dolomite, gypsum, salt, sugar, and food grains among many other items. Kolkata port is the primary port for import of cargo for landlocked countries such as Nepal and Bhutan as well as convenient for exports/transhipment of Bangladesh cargo.

Between financial years 2014-15 and 2016-17, the Kolkata Port Trust has recorded a relatively high compound annual growth rate of 30 per cent from Bangladesh cargo handling. The cargo traffic from Nepal has also witnessed a steady compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent from FY 2014-15 to FY 2016-17, with Bhutan not being far behind. Industry analysts predict that this positive trend will continue in the years to come.

The increased cargo movement in and out of Kolkata’s riverine ports is boosting diverse economic activities in the eastern metropolis and creating new opportunities for fresh employment as well.

Plans to Make Kolkata Ports More Profitable

Among many initiatives to accelerate the revenue generating potential of the city’s ports, the Kolkata Port Trust‏ (KoPT) is planning to increase its earnings from exports, especially to Bangladesh.

 According to KoPT officials, as cited in the Maritime Gateway article, Kolkata port has the potential to generate an additional earning of Rs.30 crore to Rs.40 crore per year from automotive exports to Bangladesh. A lot of Tata-made trucks have been already dispatched to Bangladesh’s Mongla port, and there are similar consignments lined up to be sent on a regular basis. Once the export of trucks stabilises, KoPT will explore options for exporting passenger cars, the officials stated.

Kolkata Port to Witness High Traffic Handling Growth in Financial Year 2018

In the financial year 2017-18, the Kolkata Port has handled an all-time high record traffic of 57.886 million tonnes, revealed KoPT Chairman, Vinit Kumar as cited in Indian Express. So far, the highest amount of traffic handled was 57.329 million tonnes, in the year 2007-08. The riverine port clocked a growth of 13.61 per cent over 2016-17, way above the national average of 4.79 per cent registered by major Indian ports.

A Business Standard article has reported that the Kolkata port is projected to achieve a growth of 8% in container traffic handling in the current fiscal year. The growth is being driven by increased bulk traffic. Likewise, revenues for both Kolkata Dock System and Haldia Dock Complex are expected to improve in the ongoing 2018 financial year. Notably, the revenue of Kolkata Dock System, as per electronic data interchange (EDI) figures, has been growing steadily for the last five financial years.

In the coming years, Kolkata’s port status is well-positioned to pay rich dividends in terms of infrastructure development, job creation, and revenue generation, especially with the implementation of Shipping Ministry’s proposed Sagar Mala project, which plans to transform the existing ports of India into modern, world-class facilities.

To sum it up, the ports of Kolkata have established West Bengal as a prime maritime corridor for national as well as international trade routes reaching to countries across Asia and Australia. With further development being planned, we’re hoping to see incredible potentials of Kolkata’s ports unearthed.

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