After nipping at the heels of its closest competitor for container traffic, JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) at Navi Mumbai, for the last few years, Mundra finally pulled ahead in the first quarter of FY21, staging a faster recovery from the covid slump than the central government controlled JNPT could.
Since then, Mundra has repeated this feat every subsequent month, consistently widening the gap in container volumes between itself and JNPT. At the end of FY21, 7.22 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units, a measure of container cargo capacity) had passed through Mundra, 16% higher than the previous year. In contrast, JNPT handled 4.68 million TEUs, a 7% year-on-year decline.
Adani’s Mundra port is the starkest example of a silent shift in cargo traffic growth from government-run to private ports. This rebalancing comes at a crucial moment: India has announced a slew of production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes which are expected to give a boost to exports as well as the import of intermediate goods. The big-ticket goal of doubling India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is also not possible without a significant ramp up in exports. Thus, if things go according to plan, private ports are uniquely placed to reap a windfall. And one entity stands to benefit more than anyone else: the Adani Group.
India’s port ecosystem is broadly divided into 12 major ports (controlled…