Commercial launch likely in a month, says Chairman

The Rs.675-crore mechanisation of coal handling facilities and upgrading of General Cargo Berth (GCB) in the outer harbour of Visakhapatnam Port is ready for trial.

“The trial run will be made within a week. We are waiting for certain clearances. In all likelihood, it will wrap up all works for commercial launch in a month,” Visakhapatnam Port Chairman Ajeya Kallam told The Hindu.

As per the directive of the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), which manages the country’s second largest port, the Vizag General Cargo Berth Private Limited, a special purpose vehicle, has advanced the construction work by a few months.

The project is highly challenging for the VPT as it is aimed at drastically reducing coal dust pollution, for which it faces a lot of criticism from various quarters.

The project is being executed by Leighton Welspun and Vedanta Resources belonging to Sterlite Industries under Design, Build, Finance, Operate, and Transfer (DBFOT) basis under a 30-year concession agreement. Once fully commissioned, GCB will handle 2,00,000 DWT vessels.

The newly developed facility is expected to handle 10.2 million tonnes per annum with a provision to expand it to 12.5 million tonnes in future.

As per the concession agreement, a state-of-the-art system is installed to handle 70,000 tonnes per day through ship loaders.

A 2.5-km-long conveyer system is now in place connecting to the mechanised stack yard, a port official has said. The 356-metre berth has been widened by 21 metres.

Grandiose plan

As part of its ambitious plan, the VPT will be spending nearly Rs.14,000 crore by 2020 to expand its capacity. It is engaging a reputed consultant to develop a satellite port near Bhimunipatnam.

National Shipping Board Chairman P.V.K. Mohan said that Visakhapatnam Port would be one of the investors in the major port coming in the public sector at Ramayapatnam in Prakasam district. The Union Cabinet is expected to give its nod shortly.

Of the total investment finalised for 2020, Rs.9,803 crore is being spent on construction and modernisation of berths, and Rs.2,112 crore on deepening of channels/berths to make Visakhapatnam as the most preferred gateway port of South Asia. The remaining amount will be invested in equipment and logistics.

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