Staff Reporter

Will tone up efforts to reduce pollution

During 2005-06, the port handled 9.46 million tonne of iron ore47.25 million cargo handled during last fiscal was an all-time high

CHENNAI: The Chennai Port Trust is keen on interacting with residents of the nearby localities to improve its efforts at controlling pollution from the coal and iron ore cargoes.

"We would like to interact with the citizens ... involve them" in the task of reducing the pollution, chairman K. Suresh said, pointing out that the measures taken by the port trust in the recent months have borne fruits.

The port's decision to put up wind curtains and use mechanised water sprinklers on the stacks and the wagon and conveyors moving them had "considerably reduced" pollution, especially the level of suspended particle in the ambient atmosphere.

The port trust was also planning to install sensors to automatically set off the sprinklers when the level of pollution rose. It had decided to install a facility to clean the tyres and outer body of the vehicle transporting coal from the port, he told presspersons here on Thursday.

On the possibility of iron ore being shifted to Ennore, where the BOT contract for the terminal had been awarded, he said at least two years were required for establishing the facility. For the first two or three years of its operation, the facility would provide an alternative. Subsequently, the cargo would be shifted out of Chennai gradually.

During 2005-06, the port trust handled 9.46 million tonne of iron ore, 1.91 million tonne of thermal coal and 1.26 million tonne of coking coal.

Mr. Suresh said the 47.25 million cargo throughput last fiscal was an all-time high and nearly eight per cent more than the 2004-05 performance. Containers, crude oil and petroleum products accounted for a substantial chunk of the total.

A handout distributed to presspersons showed that seven out of the 12 major ports in the country, including Chennai and Ennore, have not met the cargo throughput target, set by the Union Ministry of Shipping, for 2005-06. The target for the Chennai Port Trust was 49 million tonne. But for the unprecedented cyclone and torrential rain that the city witnessed in the last quarter of 2005, the port could have achieved the target, Mr. Suresh said. However, the operating income, at slightly over Rs.430 crore, was better than the estimates of Rs.427 crore.

New projects

A host of projects, including an off-dock container freight station at Tondiarpet, creation of an open area by reclaiming 68 hectares at two locations and development of a marina at the southern end of the port, have been planned under the National Maritime Development Programme. Technical bids for the terminal's BOT contract were opened sometime ago. The financial bids would be opened after the Centre accorded security clearance for one of the three short-listed bidders, Mr. Suresh said.