We intend to invest in berths and equipment at both these locations, to increase our capacity to around 60 MMTPA. These investments would be not only in equipment for bulk handling but also for handling containers, RO-RO traffic, POL and petro products, LNG, and the like, says Capt BVJK Sharma, Joint Managing Director & CEO, JSW Infrastructure, sharing his views with EQUIPMENT INDIA. Excerpts from the interview.How do you assess the investment and growth opportunities in the port sector?All indications are that there is a huge investment potential in the ports sector, which is expected to grow at above ten per cent CAGR over the next 10-15 years.What is JSW infra’ existing cargo handling capacity?At the two existing ports where JSW Infra has operations in progress, the current handling capacity is about 25 MMTPA. We intend to invest in berths and equipment at both these locations to increase our capacity to around 60 MMTPA. These investments would be not only in equipment for bulk handling but also for handling containers, RO-RO traffic, POL and petroproducts, LNG, etc.What are the major challenges?The biggest challenges are connectivity to the hinterland, archaic customs procedures, ambivalent and changing policies and development of support infrastructure.How do you view the trends in containerisation?Although in India, the level of containerisation is lower than that in the developed economies, the potential for containerisation and unitisation is huge. India’s next phase of containerisation will be spearheaded by smaller ports feeding into hubs on both the coasts.ICDs / CFSs play an important role in the development of containerisation and also in making the container logistics more efficient. What are challenges involved?CFSs traditionally have been created to de-congest the port terminals themselves. While this has led to the ability of ports to handle greater volumes, it has been accompanied by a substantial increase in logistics costs. ICDs, on the other hand, have developed into dry ports and offer value added services to the exporters and importers. We believe that with the advent of modern technology (risk-based assessment systems, container scanning, etc), the need for CFSs will gradually reach a plateau as the requirement for physical examination of containers will come down. When connectivity by road and rail to the hinterland improves, the role of ICDs will be enhanced.What is your take on advance knowledge and best practice in equipment and technology?Using the latest technology and equipment definitely reduces the effect of human inefficiencies in handling cargoes and adds substantially to the safety aspect. However, all technology requires skilled manpower in order to utilise the technology to its full potential. We are thus investing in training and skill upgradation of our personnel in order to make them proficient in using available technology.How do you look at the availability of quality plants and machinery?Almost all the equipment used in ports is imported, due to price and availability factors. We believe that if Indian companies venture into manufacturing of port equipment while maintaining price, quality and availability, backed up with excellent after sales support, they can garner a large share of the pie which is opening up in the Indian ports sector.What do the trends look like?With availability of trained manpower at a premium, increased mechanisation of cargo handling is the only solution for ports to achieve international benchmarks and enable Indian trade to play a competitive role in the world’s marketplace.What are the strengths and competencies of JSW Infra?Our core strengths are quick execution of projects, delivering sustained value to our customers, environmentally friendly operations and socially sustainable business models.What was the turnover in 2011? What is your roadmap for the next five yearsWe handled a total of 6.5 million tonnes of cargo in 2010-11 and are on track to handle over 11 million tonnes in 2011-12, a growth of around 70 per cent over the last year. Our aim is to develop a handling capacity of 180 MMTPA by 2020 by way of expanding capacity at our existing ports, developing new ports and acquiring existing ports both in India and overseas.