The volume of cargo handled by the Kottayam Port—the first multi-modal Inland Container Depot (ICD ) in the country— has recorded a sharp jump with the exports outstripping imports for the first time.
The total cargo moved through the port here this year has risen to 2,779 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) from 1,747 TEUs last year as per estimates . The volume of exports reported a sharp year-on-year rise from 718 TEUs in the previous year to 1,980 TEUs in the present year. The volume of imports, meanwhile, has dropped to 799 TEUs from 1,029 TEUs recorded in the previous year.
“The objective is to take the total volume of business to 2,800 TEUs by March 31,” said Roopesh Kumar, general manager, Kottayam port. He attributed the sharp rise in business this year to the export promotion schemes by the government as well as the attempts by the port authority to develop the facility as an export-oriented unit.
According to the official, rubber and rubber-related products accounted for majority of the export cargo, followed by wheat powder.
The total volume handled by the port since its inception has crossed 4.60 lakh tonnes and the business also brought in foreign exchange worth ₹451 crore.
An application by the Kottayam ICD seeking a licence to operate as a Minor Port under Section 7 of the Customs Act has been long pending with the Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC). The granting of the licence will enable the port to switch its cargo traffic operations entirely to the inland waterways.
Now the ICD runs its operations using a barge with a capacity of 10 TEU. A new barge with a capacity of 28 TEUs is expected to join its fleet in six months, followed by another one later next year. As part of scaling up operations, the ICD authority is also setting up a consolidated cargo warehouse with a built up area of 25,000 square feet.
Kottayam MP Thomas Chazhikadan has urged the Union government to include the Inland waterways in the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) of the Customs department to scale up the operations of the Kottayam port. Attending a budget discussion on the Ministry of Port, Shipping, and Waterways in Parliament the other day, Mr. Chazhikadan said the insurance companies and traders did not accept inland water routes as a means of transportation in the absence of a clearance by the Customs.