Export and import of cargo from Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram ports was badly hit due to serious dislocation caused by rain under the impact of Cyclone Nilam.

Seventeen merchant vessels, which were supposed to call at the Visakhapatnam Port, are waiting ‘on the road’ as a number of ships are still at the harbour. The wait for clearance for berth will lead to slapping of heavy demurrages.

Spate of landslides led to complete stoppage of goods traffic on the Kothavalasa-Kirandul section of East Coast Railway. Known as lifeline of ECoR, the railway line having several tunnels transports iron ore from Bailladilla mines in Chattisgarh.

On an average 10 to 12 rakes (each comprising nearly 4,000 tonne) come to Visakhapatnam daily from Bailladilla. Due to rains, the railway authorities are diverting one-third of total cargo to the city via Koraput-Rayagada section.

Coal transport from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, Talcher has been hit severely due to ‘low level of extraction’ from the open cast mines. The rains further led to slowdown in loading into wagons. Instead of 30 rakes a day (each with 59 wagons), 24 are being sent daily to Waltair division.

Slowdown in handling

Cargo handling has been slowed down significantly at Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram ports due to heavy rains for past three days. “With respite from rain on Wednesday, we hope to limp back to normalcy,” a senior official of Visakhapatnam Port told The Hindu.

Of 23 berths in inner and outer harbour, four have been decommissioned. The modernisation work now in progress has further reduced the handling capacity by 40 per cent

According to Janardhan Rao, Senior Vice President (Operations), Gangavaram Port Ltd, the cyclone did affect the port functioning. “We had to halt port activities to ensure safety of our people and cargo. We have begun the basic road and rail operations on Sunday evening. We expect to resume normal activities at the earliest,” he said.

Handling of fertilizer, maize, ammonia nitrate and other cargoes was nil. Coal handling fell by 60 to 70 per cent. Visakhapatnam Port handled 35.48 million tonne as on Monday during current fiscal as against 43.22 million tonne during corresponding period last year.

“Rains have caused extensive damage to movement of cargo bringing the loading and unloading of perishable commodities to a standstill,” said G. Sambasiva Rao, Managing Director of Sravan Shipping Services Ltd.

Said J.K. Nayak, General Manager of Orissa Stevedores Ltd they were keeping their fingers crossed due to rains and hoped the situation would subside soon.

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