Visakhapatnam Port, India’s second large port in handling cargo has finalised a grandiose plan to increase its capacity to 130 million tonne by 2016-17.

Cashing in on its strategic location and corporate vision to transform into a most preferred gateway port of South Asia, the port has finalised expansion with an investment of Rs.13,000-odd crore.

The port, which is managed by Visakhapatnam Port Trust, handled 67.41 million tonne in 2011-12 compared to 68.04 million tonne during the previous year.

The cargo handling was hit to some extent due to the impact of global meltdown, fall in iron ore exports by China, competition posed by ports in the neighbourhood and diversion of transhipment cargo.

Speaking at the deliberations at the East Coast Maritime Business Summit, which concluded here on Saturday, Visakhapatnam Port Chairman Ajeya Kallam said in the first phase, they would be investing Rs.3,373 crore. It envisaged mechanisation and modernisation, which would be completed in a year or two.

Underlining the need to enhance capacities by Indian ports, he said the cost of adding capacity on the East Coast was a matter of concern in the context of global scenario.

The cost was also relatively higher than the West Coast. Connectivity issue particularly by railways was a serious issue, he said and opined that the capacity addition in the railways was not proportionate to that of the port sector.

Mr. Kallam called for breaking the monopoly of railways and mentioned how rake shortage was being faced regularly.

Dredging

He said more focus should be paid on inland waterways and coastal shipping.

“It’s welcome development that the government has taken a policy to bear the expenses towards dredging,” he says.

The maritime sector had developed well in most of the foreign countries as the governments there have borne the expenses of dredging and for creating other infrastructure, he said, adding that such a move in India would help the ports in a big way to undertake mechanisation and modernisation.