Construction of Machilipatnam Port appears to be a jinxed affair, as so far nothing has moved despite the government giving a nod for the project five years ago.
Foundation stone for the new deepwater and multipurpose port was laid way back in April 2008 by the then Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. In 2013, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy had issued orders for acquisition of 5,324 acres for construction of the port. So far, however, nothing has moved and the files seem to be gathering dust at the State secretariat. Andhra Pradesh Official Language Commission Chairman Mandali Buddha Prasad, who had earlier taken up the issue on many occasions, said it was a clear case of lack of political will. “It is an ambitious project that contains a four-lane Expressway connecting Vijayawada with Machilipatnam, and it would pave way for rapid development of Krishna and its surrounding districts. Initially, there was some technical problem, but that has been ironed out. The Public Accounts Committee had raised some objections, but there are answers to them,” he told The Hindu.
Another issue that might come in the port’s way is the proposed missile testing range in the vicinity.
Many feel the DRDO may raise an objection to the port. The contract of the port was initially given to Maytas, but later switched to Navayuga Engineering Company (NEC), the promoters of Krishnapatnam Port.
The contract was allotted on BOT basis for a lease period of 33 years, extendable in two terms of 10 years each.
On where actually is the problem, a senior official from NEC Prabhakar Reddy said, “Though the land has been allotted to us, it is still on paper and not handed over to us physically.”
“Moreover, only about three villages will be partially acquired and the rehabilitation packages have been worked out. And the land to be acquired is not agriculture land,” he said.
Mr. Prabhakar Reddy said the initial investment was about Rs.1,800 crore to Rs.2,000 crore but it had now gone up to Rs.4,000 crore due to the delay. “The port is designed to accommodate 12 berths, extendable up to 24 in phases,” he said.
“Though we can extend up to 24 berths, we plan to start with 3 or 4 berths, targeting 15 mpta. The design is for a multipurpose major port with berths equipped to handle bulk, break bulk, containers, and general cargo. We can also accommodate exclusive berths for oil and other petroleum and chemical products,” he said. The port area is considered to be shallow and there is silting problem. But the problem has been addressed with the design of a 10 km long channel from the deep waters. The port is considered to be of strategic importance, as it is tipped to be not only the biggest port on eastern and southern shores but also has a reach up to Nagpur in the hinterland, due to the excellent rail connectivity. Moreover, it will be the nearest port to South East Asian countries, he said.