Ports have always been key drivers of the economy and there are few factors as attractive as the presence of efficient ports for the manufacturing sector. From automobile to textile, steel plants to cement industries, a port at an accessible distance is a lure hard to resist.
What began with just one or two berths in the 1930s, VPA has expanded to over 21 inner harbour berths and seven outer harbour berths, all modern and mechanised berths.
But the tale of the port is incomplete without mentioning the development it has brought to the hinterland or its role in the holistic development of the region and the State at large, making a major contribution to the national economy.
Visakhapatnam city and its region have grown exponentially since the setting up of the Visakhapatnam Port Trust, now called the Visakhapatnam Port Authority.
After VPA had come up, many major private and public sector units (PSUs) and establishments, such as Coromandel Fertilisers, Caltex (now Hindustan Petroleum Corporation), Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Hindustan Zinc Limited, Hindustan Shipyard Limited and Eastern Naval Command had established their units here. And over the years, the industries and establishments had played a key role in developing the region and have propelled the city to become the second-biggest city in the State, even when AP was a combined State.
In the early part of the 20th century, the then-ruling British government envisioned setting up a port in Vizagapatam, today’s Visakhapatnam.
On October 7, 1933, the port came into existence when SS Jaladurga, a passenger vessel, berthed at the single berth on the port. It was then visualised that the port would handle about 1.3 to 1.5 lakh tonnes of cargo.
Showing rapid growth, the Visakhapatnam Port Authority (VPA) has handled over 69 million tonnes of cargo of various natures only in the 2021-22 fiscal. It is today among the top major ports in the country. This year the projection, as per the Chairman of VPA, is that it would cross 72 million tonnes.
What’s in store
Probably keeping this in mind, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is stressing port-led industrial development. In almost every roadshow for the Global Investors Summit, which is beginning on Friday at the Andhra University Engineering grounds, he and his team of ministers have been talking about using the 974 km coastline of the State for building ports and fishing harbours.
Speaking to The Hindu, Industries and IT Minister Gudivada Amarnath has said that the government is planning to build six ports. Of them, four are on the verge of being grounded—one private port and three built by the State government.
“In total, we will be investing to the tune of ₹15,000 crore for the four ports and nine fishing harbours”Gudivada AmarnathIndustries and IT Minister, A.P.
In total, we will be investing to the tune of ₹15,000 crore for the four ports and nine fishing harbours, said Mr. Amarnath.
According to him, the port at Ramayapatnam, where the investment is around ₹3,500 crore, is in progress at a fast pace and will be completed by December this year. “We will berth the first vessel in December 2023,” he said.
He also indicated that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is ready for Machilipatnam and Bhavanapadu ports, and the estimated cost is around ₹8,500 crore for them both.
The government has earmarked around ₹3,500 crore to construct nine fishing harbours and as per Chief Minister’s vision, there should be one port and a fishing related activity at every 50 km, along the 974 km coastline.
The ports that are being built are all deep-water ports and the draft might vary from 16 to 18 metres. This indicates that the ports could accommodate big vessels including cape-size vessels.
What the industry wants
Appreciating the idea of port-led development, the industry captains feel that only the building of ports will not result in the holistic development of the State.
“This is a nice idea to have more ports, as it attracts investment from all sectors, but to be in the game, we have to build the required supporting infrastructure such as a 24/7 road and rail network. The infra bottlenecks must be ironed out”Sambasiva Rao Vice President, National Association of Container Freight Stations
“This is a nice idea to have more ports, as it attracts investment from all sectors, but to be in the game, we have to build the required supporting infrastructure such as a 24/7 road and rail network. The infra bottlenecks must be ironed out,” said Mr. Sambasiva Rao, Managing Director of Sravan Shipping and Vice President of the National Association of Container Freight Stations.
“The government needs to prepare a masterplan with a vision of at least 50 to 60 years to suit the investment of the industries,” he added.
Another senior man from the industry pointed out that the government should establish more special economic zones to attract investments and get the proposed economic corridors such as Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Chennai-Bengaluru and Chennai-Visakhapatnam, operational.
Mr. Sambasiva Rao added that the ports should merge with the National Logistic Policy and PM Gati Shakti to make them viable and for the better development of the State.
Ports operational in Visakhapatnam: Krishnapatnam Port, Gangavaram Port, Kakinada Deep Water, Kakinada Anchorage and Rawa
Visakhapatnam port is the only major port in Andhra Pradesh
Government earmarks around ₹3,500 crore to construct nine fishing harbours in State
Economic corridors passing through AP—Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Chennai-Bengaluru and Chennai-Visakhapatnam
Government expects to berth its first vessel at Ramayapatnam in December, 2023
VPT has gone from 1.3 lakh tonnes to 69 million tonnes
All the proposed ports will be deep-water ports