Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Tiruchi, has been able to save substantially on freight and wharf charges by exporting equipment through the Karaikal Port, which became operational in 2009. The port is closer at a distance of 132 km compared to the Chennai Port, 350 km away.

BHEL determined the capability of the new-generation green field port to handle sensitive cargo, before starting exports. A private port run by Karaikal Port Private Limited (KPPL), it first despatched BHEL’s shipment of boiler components for two 135-MW Circulating Fluidised Bed Combustion boilers to New Caledonia, a French colony near Australia, during January 2010. BHEL despatched 14,000 tonnes of components for each of the two boilers to New Caledonia.

In the process, the KPPL gained the distinction of being the only private-run port to export cargo belonging to public sector undertakings. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has also been exporting wheat through the port.

The port’s three railway sidings are connected to Tiruchi via Nagore. The rail link connects the port to major manufacturing hubs of cement, steel, chemical, aluminium & textile in Ariyalur, Tiruchi, and Salem districts. The port also has the unique advantage of connectivity to four national highways.

Emerging as the trade gateway of central Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the port, a subsidiary of Chennai-headquartered MARG Group, was selected as the ‘Most admired emerging Infrastructure Company’ under ‘transport’ category at the ‘KPMG-Infrastructure Today Awards 2013.’

According to KPPL, higher discharge rates, absence of pre-berthing delays, faster turnaround times, and savings in the integrated logistics costs have helped the port in attracting major customers. It began handling containers during this year.

BHEL Tiruchi continues to derive the utility of the Chennai Port as well. A record 1.1 lakh metric tonnes of import consignments were cleared through the Chennai Port during 2012-13, according to the annual report of BHEL Tiruchi.

At the corporate level, the company has undertaken a major drive for global sourcing of materials in order to ensure availability of steel at competitive rates. The company intends to register suppliers from East Europe, Taiwan, China, and Korea for bulk sourcing, and is identifying new sources for special materials for supercritical boiler requirements, the report states.