‘We are gearing up to overcome its shortcomings’

Admitting that there was delay in initiating measures to face challenges posed by ultra modern ports coming in its neighbourhood during pre-2008, Visakhapatnam Port Trust Deputy Chairman G.V.L. Satya Kumar said massive mechanisation was under way to put the port back on the track.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu on Saturday, he said two deep draft private ports – Gangavaram, 10 km. south of Visakhapatnam and Krishnapatnam, between Chennai and Kakinada with Cape class vessel handling facilities were commissioned during late 2008.

This threatened the hitherto sway of Visakhapatnam Port in the vast hinterland, he pointed out.

The single buoy mooring (SBM) by IOC at Paradip and augmentation of deep sea port at Kakinada ensured faster discharge of cargo making a dent on the performance of Visakhapatnam Port.

The commissioning of Dhamra and impending start of Gopalpur has aggravated the challenge ahead for VPT.

Mr. Satya Kumar said with already lost time, with superior capability ports having sprung up in the vicinity, Visakhapatnam Port pursued the modernisation initiatives with utmost vigour using the instruments of Public Private Partnership Policy Guidelines of 2008.

With seven awarded and two in the process of finalisation under PPP, the port will increase its current capacity from 62 to 112 million tonne by 2014-15, he said.

Coal handling facility

He said the commissioning of 10 million tonne mechanised coal handling facility in the Outer Harbour in April was the first in the port sector under the new PPP guidelines.

Other projects awarded so far include EQ-10 for liquid cargo other than POL, EQ-1 for imported coal, EQ-1A for export of coastal coal, EQ-7 for fertilizer, WQ-6 for other bulk and Ore Handling Plant (OHP) for iron ore. Essar Ports has been selected for Rs.845-crore modernisation of OHP and the price bid of Visakha Container Terminal for Rs.633-crore extension of container terminal is at present under evaluation.

VPT is taking up construction of new berths at WQ-7/8 with internal accruals. Except EQ-7 fertilizer mechanisation awarded to Alba and OHP to Essar, all other PPP projects are in advanced stage of completion. Mr. Satya Kumar said by December-end, they were confident of all three coal streams would be fully mechanised viz. Visakhapatnam General Cargo Berth Private Ltd (Vedanta berth), EQ-1 and EQ-1A along with EQ-10 for liquid cargo and WQ-6 for other dry bulk.

To a question, he admitted that the decommissioning of three existing berths in the Inner Harbour had caused some dislocation and pointed out that it was being compensated to some extent through monitoring and optimisation of existing resources.

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