Shedding its earlier image of a rustic, unclean port to emerge as one of the most environmentally-friendly ports in the country, Visakhapatnam Port Trust has achieved an enviable turnaround in enhancing its brand image.
The port was adjudged the second cleanest by the Quality Council of India and won a greenery award from AP Greenery and Beautification Corporation. It was also successful in stopping diversion of cargo by embarking on a massive mechanisation drive in the past five years.
Efforts pay off
“We spent over ₹200 crore to drastically reduce dust pollution due to open handling of iron ore and coal, and are today rated as a port with a very good track record and a bright future,” VPT Chairman M.T. Krishna Babu, who will be completing his five-year Central deputation early next month, told The Hindu .
The port was able to improve its efficiency parameters by implementing the recommendations of the Boston Consulting Group. “Now, we are in the process of becoming a world-class port,” Mr. Krishna Babu said.
“Insufficient supply of rakes by the Railways still remains a stumbling block, preventing faster evacuation,” the VPT chairman said.
Mr. Krishna Babu said they initiated proactive measures in consultation with the government to waive storage charges in order to ensure a level-playing field with Gangavaram and other ports to prevent cargo diversion.
“We used to charge ₹200 for handling and ₹700 for storage per tonne of cargo as against free storage offer by Gangavaram for 90 days. Hence, we almost stopped diversion of bulk cargo to Gangavaram and shifting of containers to Krishnapatnam,” he said.
VPT, which increased its cargo handling capacity from 86 to 133 million tonnes, invested ₹1,200 crore from internal accruals for rebuilding six 60-year old berths and two new berths. “For the first time among all the major ports, we have made such a huge investment on our own by convincing the government, which had earlier wanted to take up berth mechanisation and capacity augmentation projects under Public Private Participation (PPP) route. This will help us fetch more revenue,” Mr. Krishna Babu said.
VPT is the frontrunner in the country in implementing as many as nine PPP projects. Essar has completed construction of India’s largest iron ore terminal with a capacity of 24 million tonnes at an investment of ₹830 crore in March 2018. While Adani revived its operations after temporarily stopping work on coal terminal, SEW Infrastructure and its Malaysian partner PRSB stopped work on a coal and steam coal berth. Now, the issue is pending for arbitration.