At V.O. Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin

Coal imports surged at V.O. Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin with a volume of 106, 17, 791 tonnes handled in 2012-13. With this, the volume has surpassed the past record of 92, 76, 356 tonnes handled in the previous year.

To meet the growing energy demands, a series of public and private power plants, which essentially require huge quantities of coal, are emerging in and around Tuticorin.

Among merchant vessels hauling freight, coal imports which ate key to energy production are also playing a phenomenal role in the import deal.

In the current fiscal (2013-14), the port saw an import volume of 52, 69, 983 tonnes of coal until August, port sources told The Hindu here on Friday.

The port has also embarked on development projects to increase its capacity through public-private partnership mode and awarded projects to the concessionaires to handle coal, copper concentrates, rock phosphate etc.,

At the North Cargo Berth (NCB), coal would be transported to the emerging Neyveli Thermal Power Plant through conveyors, raising the port’s capacity by 6.30 million tonnes a year. As for NCB-II, construction is in progress and it would be completed by March 2014.

Work is in progress to develop NCB - III at an estimated cost of Rs.420 crore under the public-private partnership.

NCB-IV is to be developed at an estimated cost of Rs.355 crore. The construction is expected to be completed by June 15, sources added.

Besides export and import activities, Tuticorin in the southern region is predominantly known for industrialisation. Under the logistic growth of the VOC Port, imports of coal from overseas mostly Indonesia and Australia witnessed an increasing trend.

The Tuticorin Thermal Power Station, which generates 210 megawatt power in each of five units, (Total 1050 MW), is handling substantial amounts of coal for production.

S. Valliappan, Chief Engineer of TTPS, said that 25 per cent of coal used in the plant was imported from Indonesia, and the rest was sourced domestically.

“Currently, 2.25 lakh tonnes of coal is stocked in the plant. When vessels are berthed at two coal jetties, every day discharge will be around 25,000 tonnes’, he said.