We have celebrated the Cochin Port Day 2022 last week in commemoration of the arrival of the first ship into the inner harbour of Cochin on 26th May 1928. As Cochin Port enters the 95th glorious year of cargo handling we have a lot to be proud about and a lot to look forward.
We can be proud of the fact that Cochin Port has contributed immensely to the city of Cochin and the state of Kerala. The industrial establishments like the Kochi Refinery, FACT, Cochin Shipyard and many export oriented & seafood processing companies have grown and blossomed thanks to the presence of Cochin Port.
Cochin Port Authority currently has more than 8000 pensioners and more than a thousand employees. This itself gives us the reach to the populace and socio-economic fabric of the district. Apart from this, there are tens of thousands of employees working in the organisations in the ancillary areas of the Port and the logistics sector related to the Port.
Though the Port had undergone severe financial stress followed by the unexpected strike of the Covid pandemic, we could come out of the red through the tight-fistedness and the austerity measures followed in all areas. However, it is noteworthy that we could increase the Pension Fund from ₹160-cr to ₹700-cr in 2022.
I thank every employee of the Port and the trade unions functioning in the Port for their cooperation in ensuring a smooth sailing even during the tumultuous times.
The technical expertise of the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Departments of the Cochin Port has always been commendable. The Port has constructed several jetties and marine structures in Cochin for organisations like GIDA, Coast Guard, IWAI, IOCL, UT Lakshadweep etc on deposit work basis. The construction of a jetty for Indian Navy is now being carried out by Cochin Port. The Cochin Port has also taken up the construction of a cruise terminal at Mormugao Port. As requested by the UT Lakshadweep Administration, the Port has recently taken up the operation, management, development and maintenance of Port facilities in the Lakshadweep Islands.
If we take a look at the traffic position, we have grown from 13.89 MT traffic handled in 2005-06 to 34.5 MT in 2021-22. The number of containers has grown from 2,03,112 TEUs to 7,35,577 TEUs during the above period. Though Cochin was envisaged as a transshipment Port, the growth of transshipment volume at ICTT, Vallarpadam was very marginal in the initial years. However, with a deliberate marketing strategy and through constant interaction with the exim and shipping communities we could achieve substantial growth in the number of transshipment containers handled at ICTT during the last two years and in 2021-22 ICTT handled 1.56 lakh TEUs of transshipment containers. This indeed is a very encouraging trend which gives us more confidence to develop and establish Cochin as a transshipment hub in the region to help our Country ‘atmanirbhar’ by way of facilitating transshipment of containers to and from India in an Indian port itself.
We have greater heights and greater milestones to achieve. The impetus being given by the Govt of India for development of maritime and logistics sectors is tremendous. While PM Gati Shakti programme spearheads the integrated development of multi-modal connectivity infrastructure in the country, the Sagarmala scheme ensures development of the port infrastructure as well as inclusive development of the coastal communities. The projects like re-construction of SCB, development of the new Ro-Ro Terminal at Mattanchery Wharf for coastal movement of trucks, the modernisation proposed at Cochin Fisheries Harbour are supported by the Sagarmala Scheme of Govt of India.
The Cochin Port has enormous potential to grow as a maritime hub of the region. With the visionary approach of the Hon’ble Union Minister for Ports Shipping and Waterways, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, as well as the generous support and constant follow up by the Ministry, I am sure we will be able to upgrade our infrastructure facilities, improve further on the Ease Of Doing Business and ensure world class service to our customers.
I solicit the continued cooperation and whole hearted support of everyone in the Port fraternity/family.
Dr. M. Beena IAS