With two more ports in the pipeline and the Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram Ports going on a massive expansion-spree, the city is set to emerge as a premier hub for port-based activity in next few years.

‘Look East Policy’ and Ministry of Shipping’s Maritime Agenda for 2020 have put development of Visakhapatnam on a fast-track.

“With its strategic location, readymade infrastructure and the city turning into an ideal destination for investors, we are pretty sure that Visakhapatnam will soon find an important place on the world maritime map,” CII Vizag zone chairman and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited Director (Commercial) T.K. Chand told The Hindu.

Spurring the growth in and around the city, the public sector Visakhapatnam Port has become a beehive of activity with expansion and mechanisation going on in full gear. Ranked second in the country after Kandla, the Vizag port handled a throughput of 67.41 million tonnes during last fiscal.

To make it most-preferred port of South East Asia, VPT has finalised a grandiose plan to increase its capacity by 10 million tonnes during 2012-14 and take it to 112 million tonnes by 2013-14. VPT Chairman Ajeya Kallam announced at the East Coast Maritime Business Summit held here recently that they would invest Rs.9,803 crore - Rs.13,939 crore on construction and modernisation of berths and Rs.2,112 crore on deepening of channels/berths -- to make Visakhapatnam Port truly world-class.

To decongest traffic, VPT is in the process of finalising a consultant to develop a satellite port at Mulakuddu near Bheemunipatnam with an investment of Rs.2,000 crore. To start with, it will have four to five berths with a capacity to handle 20 million tonnes.

“We will also put an end to dust pollution once the mechanised coal handling facility at the General Cargo Berth developed by Leighton Welspund and Vedanta in the Outer Harbour at a cost of Rs.675 crore is commissioned,” a senior official of VPT said. Gangavaram Port Ltd, formed by a consortium led by D.V.S. Raju, is investing Rs.995 crore to expand the capacity of the Gangavaram Port, built on Public Private Partnership mode, to increase the capacity from 16.54 million tonne to 40.95 million tonne. The construction activity is going on at brisk pace. GPL got a shot in the arm with Petronet LNG Limited signing an agreement to set up a LNG terminal with an investment of Rs.4,500 crore to have five million capacity in the first phase. The terminal is scheduled to be operational by 2016.

RINL, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, has engaged RITES for conducting a feasibility study and is now trying to get the required clearances from the State government to go ahead with its Rs.1,000 crore investment on a Greenfield captive port on its own land with an initial cargo handling capacity of 18 million tonne. RINL is envisaging an investment of Rs.30,000 crore to raise its steel production to 12 million tonne per annum in next few years. “With such a huge hinterland and introduction of international flights to Singapore and Dubai and proposals for air connectivity with Bangkok, Colombo and Sharjah, the city has a bright future for port-based activity,” said Capt. Sriram Ravi Chander, COO of Visakha Container Terminal Pvt. Ltd.