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Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004

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Haldia dock mulls new barge jetty to handle bulk cargoes

Santanu Sanyal

Kolkata , Sept. 27

AT least two power utilities, one in the public sector and the other in the private, are believed to be examining the scope of receiving thermal coal by barges through Haldia dock.

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is understood to have shown interest in bringing thermal coal from IB Valley to Haldia by rail for onward movement by barges to its Farakka plant located on the bank of the river.

Initially, the volume might be in the region of half a million tonnes annually, to be gradually stepped up to three to four million tonnes. NTPC, which is currently working on the logistics, is to submit a concrete proposal in this regard to the dock authorities shortly, it is learnt.

CESC Ltd, the private power utility, is believed to have indicated to dock authorities its plan to import in the current fiscal over three lakh tonnes of coal from Indonesia through the dock.

Last year, the company handled at Haldia two shipments of 25,000 tonnes each on experimental basis. This year, the import will be on a more regular basis. Already 1.75 lakh tonnes in seven shipments have arrived.

The dock authorities have suggested to the company to examine the scope of evacuating the imported mineral out of the dock by barges since its Budge Budge plant is also located on the bank of the river. The evacuation so far has been by rail.

But the problem is that the Haldia dock does not have a suitable barge jetty for handling a bulk material such as coal. The present barge jetties are just suited for handling limited quantities of petroleum products and, therefore, unsuitable for handling any other item, particularly bulk items in larger volumes.

The dock authorities, therefore, are mulling construction of a suitable barge jetty complete with cranes and other equipment for handling bulk cargoes.

A committee constituted under the Director of Marine Department of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) is currently in the process of identifying a suitable location on the waterfront for constructing the jetty.

Meanwhile, Haldia dock authorities have decided to give priority berthing to three container vessels at a time as compared to the present two.

A proposal in this regard was recently cleared by the board of trustees of KoPT. Two reasons are believed to have prompted the dock authorities to take such a decision. First, the bunching of the container vessels recently as a sequel to rise in the throughput.

Last year the container throughput was 131,000 TEUs. The present trend indicates that the figure in the current fiscal might go up by at least 15 per cent.

Second, the dock authorities will soon install RMQCs ( rail-mounted quay cranes) to facilitate container handling, and has accordingly earmarked two berths, Nos. 10 and 11. These two berths together have a quayline of 450 metres, long enough for three container feeder vessels to berth at a time.

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