The ripple effect of the ongoing economic slowdown was clearly evident in the ports sector as the total cargo throughput of the 12 Major Ports slipped 5.7 per cent in the first two months of the current fiscal, compared to a growth of 5.1 per cent in the same period of 2011-12, according to Exim News Service.
Given the reduced growth in the gross domestic product (GDP), the drop in throughput has come as no surprise to the sector, which also saw the yearly cargo handled slipping into the red for the first time in over a decade.
The Major Ports also took a hit due to the slump in iron ore cargo, caused by the mining crisis, registering a 29 per cent decline in April-May 2012 compared to a 15 per cent drop in 2011. The highest fall in throughput during the same period was seen in raw fertiliser and finished fertiliser, with a decline of 34.6 per cent and 29.2 per cent, respectively.
Major Ports, however, attributed the fall in throughput to the rupee depreciation, which reduced the demand for imports.
The Shipping Ministry has set a growth target of six per cent for 2012-13 over the previous year. A senior Ministry official described the port sector's growth as a reflection of the present global economic activity.