Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) is undergoing massive expansion, and is aiming to be a part of the world’s top 10 container ports in this decade. An estimated Rs. 50,000 crore is being invested to make JNPT a preferred port of call for every shipping company. Neeraj N Kumar, who recently assumed the position as Chairman, spoke to The Hindu on JNPT’s growth plans.

Edited excerpts:

How do you plan to make JNPT one of the world’s top ten container ports?

JNPT is the biggest container port in India, handling 56 per cent of the country's containerized cargo.

The port is currently ranked 31st among the top 100 container ports in the world. As the busiest gateway and hub in India, it has been constrained in the past by lack of facilities, which has impacted trade.

China, Singapore and Sri Lanka have bigger container ports. Due to our capacity constraints, all the containers are being transhipped from China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and even Dubai. Indian trade is paying extra cost for this transhipment. This is why it is necessary to have a big world-level container port so that we can save on transhipment cost as well as attract mother vessels to India.

In India, container volumes are expected to witness an exponential growth. Building new container terminals will help meet the growing global demand. Building of greater capacity is part of the port’s long-term vision. The fourth container terminal was planned from various studies, which envisaged that the port would be required to handle container traffic to the tune of 10 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) by 2018-19. With this capacity addition and 330 m standalone container terminal, JN Port will be able to handle 10 million TEUs, and place itself among the top 10 global container ports. We will be 10 million TEU in four years down the line.

From four million TEUs , you are heading for 10 million TEUs. When do you think it will be achieved? What is the total investment?

The fourth container terminal with a quay length of 2000 metres and capacity of 4.8 million TEUs will come up at an estimated project cost of Rs.7,915 crore by PSA Investment of Singapore. The project is scheduled to be completed in six years in two phases.

JNPT has signed the concession agreement with DP World's Indian subsidiary for development of a standalone container handling facility at a cost of Rs.600 crore with a capacity addition of 0.8 Million TEUs. The project is slated to be completed by December 2015.

To handle this extra capacity, we need to enhance land side facility. There will be further investment of Rs. 1,800 crore by BOT operator for improving 43 km road from present 4 lanes to 12 lanes. An investment of Rs. 30,000 crore will be made in the dedicated freight corridor. Though this corridor is not exclusively for JNPT, this investment is very critical for the port’s future growth.

Besides, there will be more investment in ancillaries to be set up by the private sector. We are envisaging that new CFS (container freight station) facilities will be created, and we are also creating a multi-modal logistics park where investment will be made by the private sector. With 10 million TEU capacity, we will require a lot of ancillary units, which will come up through investment from the private sector which can’t be quantified at this moment.

What does the recent investment of PSA of Singapore at JNPT indicate?

We already have APM Terminal and DP World. Now with PSA, it shows that all international top terminal operating companies have confidence in India, in general, and JNPT, in particular. It indicates that they have confidence in the professional management of JNPT and they are quite bullish about the Indian market.

India's growing port sector is expected to witness some big ticket merger and acquisitions (M&A) in 2014 as more and more investors start viewing the space as a high-return venture. Despite 40 road projects and more than 10 power projects on the block for several months now, many cash-rich players have shifted their focus to the port sector.

What is the overall development plan at the port?

It is divided into three parts. The first, water side facility starts with the channel. We have dredged this channel by investing Rs. 1,600 crore. The dredging is already complete. We have deepened it and widened it. Now, we have 33 km- long channel with a 14-meter draft against the earlier 11 meters. In the second phase, we are going to increase it to 15 meters. and ultimately to 17 meters. Then we can handle bigger ships of 15,000 to 18,000 TU capacity as compared to fully-loaded vessels with 6,000 TU capacity currently. Due to change in economy, all companies are going for biggest vessels, and they can prefer to come here.

Secondly, water front development. A standalone container handling facility with a quay length of 330 meters is being developed by DP World, and the 2,000 meter-long fourth container terminal by PSA is also coming up. You can imagine the size of the container terminal. Currently, our combined (JNPCT, APM and DP World) terminal length is 2,000 meters, and the fourth container terminal alone will add 2,000 meters. It means we are not creating a fourth container terminal, we are creating JNPT II. Then the additional 30 million tonnes liquid terminal. Thirdly, landside evacuation. The plan is to make our existing 43 kms of road network, which connects JNPT to three major highways (Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Goa and Mumbai-Agra), from present four lanes to 12 lanes with two lanes each both sides dedicated for public transport. Around Rs. 1,800 crore will be invested in this project on a BOT basis. We have already invited bids. We are making this project a traffic conflict-free road. Due to this, the cost has gone up to Rs 1,800 crore against Rs. 500 crore normally. This road will give last mile connectivity to the New Mumbai airport. So, we are ensuring that the traffic coming to the airport will not disturb the port traffic. This road project will be ready in four years.

With the dedicated freight corridor, JNPT can have access to more than 100 trains per day with 180 containers each as compared to 22 trains per day with 90 containers each currently. The dedicated freight corroder should be complete by 2017. By then, we will be ready with 12-lane road, 330 meters standalone container handling facility, the first phase of the fourth terminal and the dredging of the channel.

How did the port perform in 2013-14?

We have maintained the throughput of the earlier year despite the global slowdown in the shipping industry and despite labour problems at two of our terminals (one was closed for 15 days, and the other was under-producing for two months). We were able to maintain our throughput at 4.16 million TEUs compared to 4.26 million TEUs in the previous year, a decline of 2.29 per cent. However, our own JNPCT showed a growth of more than 8 per cent. So, even in the depressed global market, we had shown growth.

lalatendu.mishra@thehindu.co.in

This article has been corrected for a factual error

RELATED NEWS

JNPT to double capacity in five yearsMarch 5, 2014

More In: Industry | Business