The immediate and short-term plan is to improve flow of containers using information technology

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has come forward to offer assistance to Chennai Port Trust for improving container movement.

The move would help the export-import trade plan better and save on time and cost. Further, the offer assumes significance, coming as it does in the backdrop of Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor project, in which JICA will have a major engagement.

Chief Representative at JICA India Office Shinya Ejima said, “We are willing to help the port” from the perspective of improving efficiency of the port operations. The prospects of JICA joining hands with the port for this purpose were discussed when he met a senior official of the port, Mr.Ejima told The Hindu during his visit to Chennai recently.

The immediate and short-term plan is to improve the flow of containers using information technology. Pointing out that the port administration was trying to reduce congestion, particularly the long queue of container trailers, he said Japan has experience in improving port operation. And this it was able to achieve by “using not very complicated, but simple technology.”

While highlighting the importance of good road infrastructure, Mr.Ejima referred to the stoppage of work on the Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated four-lane link road project. Japanese industrial units in the State, he added, were looking forward to the project. “I don’t know what is the real cause [but] if the plan exists and construction is started, [it’s] better to solve the issue,” he said, adding the elevated road would be important in terms of improving access to the port.

On the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor project, he said the master plan study had recently got under way and set to be completed by early 2015. It involves comprehensive perspective planning at corridor level and detailed planning at industrial-node level mainly in the sectors of transportation, power/energy, water and industrial park.

The study will cover an area of 560 km across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It will cost around Rs.37 crore and help arrive at the total cost of the project.

With regard to the progress made by the ongoing Chennai Metro Rail project, being funded by JICA, Mr.Ejima said, “The project implementation has not been delayed so much. Of course, not everything is perfect. They are working quite hard.” With regard to the State government not evincing interest in pursuing the next phase of Chennai Metro, he said the network expansion was very important.

Bangkok, he added, got the Metro during the late 1990s but because of various reasons it was not expanded. “Now they are facing heavy traffic congestion in central Bangkok. Delhi Metro started a few years after Bangkok but the network was continuously expanded and it has reached nearly 200 km. After three years it will be reach 300 km… very impressive,” he said.

“We expect Chennai not to stop with this and expand and extend the Metro [to] phase II and III,” he added.

Replying to a query on other projects in Tamil Nadu, he said JICA was considering extending assistance for establishing an outpatient tower and purchase of equipment to the Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children, Egmore, Chennai.

The proposal was in the final stage of decision-making, he said, adding JICA was in discussion with the Japanese government to make an official commitment and it was likely to be made by this fiscal.

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