Vizag Port focuses on capacity augmentation to regain lost glory

Santosh Patnaik
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Port registers shortfall of 8.79 million tonnes during current fiscal

General Cargo Berth under construction at Visakhapatnam Port in Visakhapatnam.— Photo: K.R. Deepak
General Cargo Berth under construction at Visakhapatnam Port in Visakhapatnam.— Photo: K.R. Deepak

After giving up hope of retaining second slot among major ports due to variety of reasons, Visakhapatnam Port has decided to focus on timely completion of its capacity augmentation projects so as to regain its lost glory in a couple of years.

Loss of transhipment cargo led to snatching away of its premier port status by Kandla in 2007-08. Apart from slowdown in cargo handling due to the ongoing mechanisation works, Visakhapatnam Port lost iron ore and transhipment cargo significantly. All cargoes put together, the port registered a shortfall of 8.79 million tonne (mt) during current fiscal (as of February 4) compared to last year accounting for a drop by 15.17 per cent.

With an investment nearly of Rs.14,000 crore on mechanisation/modernisation, the capacity of the port is projected to go up to 139.67 mt by 2016-17 and 148.67 mt by 2019-20. Figures (in mt) released by Indian Ports Association reveal that Kandla is ahead of all other ports by handling 78.15 followed by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) 53.76, Visakhapatnam 49.15, Mumbai 48.52, Paradip 46.61, Chennai 44.33, Kolkata (including Haldia Dock) 32.40 and New Mangalore 30.49 mt.

Though all the ports suffered due to sluggish economy, Visakhapatnam Port’s projections went haywire due to combination of factors. The port with a capacity of 66 mt is likely to finish with 60 mt by March 31. The target set for it by the Ministry of Shipping is 70 mt and the projected throughput is 64 mt. A port official said as of now, they have a shortfall of four mt iron ore, which is mainly attributed to recession in domestic steel industry and fall in imports by China.

The installation of two single buoy moorings at Paradip has led to diversion of more transhipment cargo. It is estimated that Visakhapatnam Port lost 2.5 million tonne port of loading (POL) to Paradip. Due to cut in production by Visakh Refinery (HPCL) due to pollution problem, there was shortfall of one mt import cargo. Increasing prices led to falling demand of fertilizer and a loss of one mt for the port. RINL and NTPC have been handling coking coal from Gangavaram ever since it launched its operations.

The only positive side this time is continuation in the growth rate in handling of container cargo.



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