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


Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday insisted on the development of an all-weather deep-water port close to international shipping routes, saying “a vast majority” of container ships coming to India are transhipped in Colombo and elsewhere due to the lack of major national ports here.

It has also given China huge dominance in the Indian Ocean, he told the Lok Sabha while taking part in a discussion on grant applications for the Ministry of Ports, Navigation and Waterways.

“Colombo tranships more Indian goods … than any of the major ports in India. In fact, all the so-called major ports (in India) put together do not match those of Colombo,” Tharoor said.

“Now what is worrying about this is (that) there is a serious geo-strategic angle for us to be dependent on Colombo for so much 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 the port of Colombo,” added the former Minister of State for External Affairs.

He said India’s port development is “significant” as ships carry 90% of global cargo around the world.

“And, in the case of India, it is even more so because 95% of cargo volume comes to our country by sea, not by other means,” Tharoor added.

He said that India has a beautiful coastline and one of the most impressive in the world.

“We should have developed our ports, which I’m sorry to say, we haven’t done that yet,” he said, adding that it was because the resources, given to the ministry by parliament since 2017-18, remain “underutilized”.

The Congressman also questioned the government’s policy, saying that “there is a pungent situation where India prohibits Chinese companies from investing in the construction of our ports, but in fact we tolerate transshipment the lion’s share of our cargo through a port operated exclusively by China”. .

“And, where Chinese Navy ships and submarines regularly called for resupply,” he added.

Noting that shipping is increasingly important, he said larger ships require deeper ports. In India’s case, it must be “unfortunately extremely expensive” created by dredging, Tharoor said.

Major shipping lines do not stop at Indian ports due to “very high” logistics costs, he said, adding, “It actually means that our economy helps 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”.

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

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

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