Officials confident of gaining lost ground post-mechanisation. According to the Indian Ports Association, Kandla is the frontrunner followed by Paradip, JNPT, and Mumbai.

Fall in iron ore exports, diversion of transhipment cargo, and dislocation caused due to heavy mechanisation have affected cargo handling at the Visakhapatnam Port, relegating it to the fifth position among 12 major ports in the country.

The port had earned third slot last fiscal. All the major ports put together handled 503.92 million tonne during April 2012 and February 2014 as against the previous year’s 497.97 million tonne, recording a marginal increase.

According to the Indian Ports Association, Kandla is the frontrunner followed by Paradip, JNPT, and Mumbai.

Incidentally, Paradip has done exceedingly well. Though the total volume is not much, Ennore has registered phenomenal increase in percentage of growth. New Mangalore, Kakinada, Mumbai, and Kolkata have also recorded marginal growth.

The setback notwithstanding, the port officials exude confidence that commissioning of one million tonne green terminal for handling coal by Vedanta, completion of deep draft facility in the outer harbour, and commencement of dredging in the inner harbour and other factors will enable them to regain the lost glory from next year.

Two major projects — extension of container terminal at an estimated cost of Rs.633 crore and mechanisation of ore handling complex with an investment of Rs.845 crore — are likely to commence next fiscal.

While the Visakha Container Terminal Pvt. Ltd has been awarded the extension of container terminal, Essar Ports has signed the concession agreement for ore handling complex mechanisation.

During a chat, Vizag General Cargo Berth Pvt. Ltd CEO D.K. Manral told The Hindu that once they get adequate storage space and other BOT projects get commissioned, Visakhapatnam Port would certainly emerge as the No.1 port.

The recent achievement of Visakhapatnam Port was the anchoring of cape size vessel in the outer harbour. As on February 28, the port handled a throughput of 52.77 million tonne as against 53.94 million tonne during the corresponding period.

As on Wednesday, it handled 57.22 million tonne as against last year’s 58.16 million tonne last year.