Having been hit badly by the ban of iron ore exports by the Karnataka government, the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) will export four million tonnes for the year ending March 2011 against eight million tonnes exported in the corresponding period last year.

Talking to The Hindu, Chennai Port Trust chairman Subhash Kumar said “the situation is very bad. There is no sign of survival. A couple of traders have written to us seeking permission to withdraw the plots taken on lease for which they have to pay the Minimum Guaranteed Throughput (MGT). If more traders opt out, then it will be serious. We would like to wait and see what to do next. We hope the situation would change soon.”

On an average ChPT was handling eight million tonnes of iron ore for the last two years and it was 10.8 million tonnes three years ago. Till July 2010, the port received 1.7 million tonnes against the target of 3.8 million tonnes. This means that the export volume will see a dip of 50 per cent compared to the previous years. The inflow of iron ore from Bellary mostly to China has been down for the last few weeks and it has affected southern ports such as Krishnapatnam, Visakhapatnam and Mangalore.

P. Venkateshwarlu, Traffic Manager, ChPT, said that they have been getting one to two rakes of iron ore every day and the shortage could be met easily as there was sufficient time of seven months to meet the target.

As on date, the port is facing a shortage of 1.2 million tonnes compared to corresponding period last year.

“Last week, four vessels visited the port and one more vessel is waiting for berth. Even then, there is no improvement in the situation. There is a steep reduction in iron ore movement as only legally mined iron ores are being moved. We will not lose revenue on this account, as we have entered into MGTs and will encash it,” he said.