In a first such initiative on the east coast the port will develop a barge handling facility in Bharati Dock

To tackle congestion issues, the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) has taken all steps of developing a barge handling facility in Bharati Dock on a public-private-partnership mode. If all goes well, the movement of containers using barge from Ennore Port to ChPT would commence from April onwards and it would be the first port on the east coast to do so.

On a given day over 2,000 vehicles enter the ChPT. A substantial increase in number of vessels and vehicles has led to congestion at the Zero Gate. Hence, it was decided to use marine highway as an alternative.

It has been decided to create new facility at north end of Bharati Dock to handle bigger size barges in a year. The proposed length of the jetty will be three times bigger than that of the present facility.

As part of its proposal, ChPT awarded the Rs. 30 crore project to IMC Limited, Chennai in January, who in turn have formed a special purpose vehicle, Chennai Bunkering Terminal Private Ltd (CBTPL). The Detailed Project Report was submitted to the Board on Friday by CBTPL.

About 50 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of containers can be moved in each trip from Ennore Port. A ChPT official said: “There has been a slight delay in the project. But, we are gearing towards completing it on time. Prior to that, Environmental Clearance (EC) has to be obtained from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) after conducting public hearing.”

WAPCOS have completed the field sample collection, except the ambient air quality data, and completed the preparation of draft Environment Impact Assessment report.

Traders sceptical

Talking to The Hindu, EXIM trade representatives said: “No doubt, it would remove at least 50 trucks on the road leading to ChPT’s Zero Gate, but at what cost? The new arrangement involves two lift-offs and lift-ons and the cost would be passed on to the trade. At ChPT, we had the luxury of bringing in the boxes just 24-hours prior to the arrival of the vessel, but now the window time will go up.”

Another representative expressed doubts about the longevity of the project as Ennore Port was in the process of developing its own container terminal. Would it not amount to clash of interests? The ChPT has to conduct the cost and viability study before implementing the project, he said.

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