Still known by its old name Tuticorin Port Trust - even though the district’s name has changed to Thoothukudi -- the Port holds a unique distinction of being both the oldest sea port in the world and the youngest major port in the country. With Mr.A.Subbiah, a 1992 batch IAS Officer -- recipient of President’s Award twice in service of differently abled people and for being the best District Collector during his tenure in the Insurgency prone Jalpaiguri District in the State of West Bengal -- at the helm of affairs, the Trust continues to march ahead in its quest for constant improvement. Over the years it has achieved many milestones without losing focus of its vision to be the most preferred Indian Port. Nurturing values like total satisfaction of customers, healthy partnership with stakeholders, unwavering commitment to quality and teamwork, fairness, accountability and transparency in work , caring for social and natural environment and value addition through productivity, safety and security have always been held dear by every employee of the Port.
Excerpts from an interview with the Dy.Chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust, Mr. A.Subbiah.
• As Head of one of the youngest Major Ports in the country, how do you propose to make Tuticorin Port a quality leader?
Tuticorin Port is a service organization, whose quality is continually bettered by improving the process and the system and the people associated with it. We have already embarked upon enhancing skills, knowledge, training and attitude and inducted Information Technology in many areas facilitating quick data interchange. The EDI network with appropriate hardware and software facilitates exchange of data between the Users, Port and Customs in a user friendly way. This minimizes the transaction time and physical movement of persons and documents. Close monitoring of equipment, land and shipping operations helps to identify the gaps and take corrective action.
• During the previous financial year you achieved your annual set target almost two weeks ahead of the fiscal term. How this record performance was made possible?
The record achievement of Tuticorin Port in handling 214.8. lakh tonnes (despite a capacity of 205.50 LT) was made possible by the excellent co-operation of all the stake holders. Securing the 3rd place among all Major Ports by crossing the target by 5.37% during 2007-08, was due to good team work of employees and workers. The Port’s record container handling of 4,50,398 TEUs, and thereby achieving a growth of 19.44%, is a testimony to the good understanding of the BOT operator of the container terminal which has come up under Public Private Partnership. The excellent performance during last fiscal is due to excellent operation in the Container Terminal, Coal Jetties and other Break Bulk Terminal. Port Management had a proactive policy to facilitate anchorage operation which contributed an additional quantum of about one million tonnes.
• What are the new targets set by you for the coming year? Achieving a target of 240.60 lakh tonnes during 2008-09.
Improvement of infrastructure, Process Automation and Human Resources by designing appropriate promotion policy and good working environment. Implementing the Integrated Security System, developing projects as per the Business Plan and embarking upon socially relevant projects for community development and thereby strengthening credentials of corporate social responsibility.
• The Confederation of Indian Industry is working towards South-South Prosperity by 2025 by showcasing the potential of industrial amenities and making the District a destination for outside investors. What is TPT’s role and contribution towards this vision for Tuticorin by 2025?
Investment in Port infrastructure and Port development shall have a multiple effect on the economy by facilitating both direct and indirect employment. It is envisaged that by the end of the 11th Plan, Port shall have a capacity of 84.30 Million Tonnes and by 2025 Tuticorin Port is expected to handle about 131 million tonnes of cargo. This is going to be achieved by the Port’s Master Plan of the Inner and Outer Harbour Development. This will create a huge need for investment in both social and physical infrastructure outside the Port.
New investments are also needed for laying down 6 to 8 lane roads, doubling of the railway line from Tuticorin to Chennai, electrification of railway lines, formation of new railway lines between Kanyakumari, Tiruchendur, Tuticorin, Karaikudi for seamless transportation of goods, construction of warehouses and storage space for a variety of cargo, setting up of new container freight stations, lorry parking yards, lorry repair works and connected spare parts activity, investments in variety of cargo handling equipment, social infrastructures like shopping malls, integrated townships, schools, colleges, entertainment and recreation zones, hotels and housing.
• What are your strengths and how do you improvise upon them?
The strength of Tuticorin Port is its close proximity to international sea routes connecting the East and the West. This geographic location sheltered from the fury of storms and cyclones and other natural calamities shall be further exploited for the betterment of the economy of the country by appropriate plans of augmenting capacity. The enterprising business community and the hard working nature of people shall give impetus for further development.
• How can the Port become a catalyst for tourism development?
As of now the cruise tourism is in a nascent stage. The Port will act as a facilitator with the stake holders in the tourism industry to come up with concrete proposals for further improvement of cruise tourism.
• How will you ensure that tourism and environment work hand-in-hand in this high economic activity zone here?
The Port has put in place an environmental management system ensuring that within the Port area including the water front, adequate care is taken to preserve and nurture the environment. Strict pollution control measures are followed in cargo handling. Environmental impact assessment is made before projects are implemented.
Appropriate mitigation strategies are planned like creation of Eco park, buffer zones, plantation of saplings, solid waste management, monitoring of ambient air and water quality by third parties, close monitoring of e-waste, creation of green zone. The Port has a motto of being a Clean Port and a Green Port.
- Soma Basu