Centre initiates measures to create world-class facilities with an investment of Rs.13,940 crore

Visakhapatnam Port has turned into a beehive of activity with efforts under way to augment/create world-class facilities with an investment of Rs.13,940 crore as the Centre has decided to designate it as a transhipment hub.

Notwithstanding the setback it suffered during current fiscal due to fall in iron ore exports and sluggish market relegating its position from second to third in cargo handling during current fiscal, the port managed by Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) is making all-out efforts to handle 83 million tonne by 2016-17 and 103 million tonne by 2019-20.

The Ministry of Shipping has identified Visakhapatnam for development as a hub port. Once it becomes a hub, it will make the dream of port users come true in making Visakhapatnam Port the gateway as well as most preferred port of South East Asia. A study conducted by IIM-Ahmedabad confirmed that Visakhapatnam has the viability to emerge as a hub port.

Of the capacity addition programmes planned by spending Rs.13,940 crore, the port management is mobilising Rs.7,100 crore through PPP mode in three phases.

Union Minister of State for Shipping Millind Deora during his visit to the port early this year said Visakhapatnam Port had all the ingredients to become a hub port. In a tweet, he stated: “Built in 1933, Visakhapatnam Port is India’s largest coal+iron ore port and has a 200 km rail network within its facility.”

‘Strategic location’

Visakhapatnam Port Deputy Chairman G.V.L. Satya Kumar told The Hindu that they had everything that was required to be a hub port. “We have the country’s deepest container terminal as well as strategic location with a vast hinterland. Now it all depends on how we market ourselves,” he said.

The port officials are confident that the dirty port tag attached to Visakhapatnam Port would go within two years once they put in place mechanised facilities for handling coal and iron ore. There are efforts to develop a satellite port near 17{+t}{+h}century township of Bheemunipatnam to decongest traffic.

“With the country’s deepest container terminal Visakhapatnam Port should be developed as a hub. The cabotage laws, which come in the way of attracting transhipment cargo, should be relaxed for Visakhapatnam as is done for Vallarpadam,” Visakha Container Terminal COO Capt. Sriram Ravi Chander said. Cabotage laws prevent the movement of cargo from one Indian port to another by foreign vessels.

Shipping lines are thereby forced to send the containers to transhipment hubs like Colombo and Hong Kong and later transport it back Indian destinations making the freight cost prohibitively high.

“Once the laws are relaxed, Visakhapatnam within no time will become a hub port,” Mr. Ravi Chander said.