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Indian offshore container port mooted

London: The trend of supersized vessels sweeping the industry will pose problems for Indian ports, according to panellists at an India Maritime Conference held yesterday in London. Speaking at the event, co-organised by Navigate PR and UK Trade & Investment, Richard Butcher of Cambridge Academy of Transport suggested that an offshore port on the West coast of India would be the only solution. "The current trend is for companies to take advantage of economies of scale and to order larger and larger vessels," he said. "We are going to see 7,000teu vessels come online (in India) in the next two to three years, and we will probably go beyond that in the near future as well."

Although the East Coast of India is physically better suited for larger vessels as it offers a deeper draft, the bulk of Indian container traffic goes through ports such as Mumbai and JNPT on the West coast for logistical reasons, a scenario that is unlikely to change without massive infrastructural investment. Although alternatives such as dredging of entry channels to the Western ports were suggested, other speakers, such as Ports and terminals group chairman Dr Jane Smallman were quick to point out that this was an extremely expensive option that was unlikely to be funded either by private investors or the government.  [01/02/07]

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