The recent Madras High Court order restraining Chennai port from handling dusty cargoes such as iron ore and coal and instead shift these ‘dusty cargo' handling operations to Ennore port may come as a boon to the neighbouring Krishnapatnam port in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.

In anticipation of getting a significant scoop of the dusty cargoes currently being handled at Chennai port, Krishnapatnam port, developed and operated by the $5-billion Navayuga Group, is stepping on the gas to complete its Rs 4,000-crore phase-II development programme.

In addition to this, the port has now proposed an additional investment of Rs 2,000 crore to further mechanise cargo handling operations and shore up efficiencies.

Iron ore cargo

Apart from the Chennai port development, the recent lifting of ban on iron ore exports by Karnataka Government is also seen as another source of additional cargo for Krishnapatnam. “As of now there has been no diversion of cargo from Chennai port, but we may see some volumes from that port coming to us,” a senior official of the port told Business Line.

The Madras High Court has given Chennai port four months to shift coal and iron ore operations to Ennore port. Chennai handles about 12 mt of iron ore and eight mt of coal annually.

For Krishnapatnam port, both these cargoes will be the mainstay of its cargo basket, with new dedicated coal and iron ore berths being lined up. The port, which has five multi-purpose berths with a draft of about 15 m, handles a little over 16 million tonnes, as against the phase-I installed capacity of 25 m.

Phase II expansion

The port is quickening completion of the phase-II expansion so as to wrap it up by early 2012. Under this phase, the port is constructing seven additional ports and mechanised cargo handling system with eleven cargo-wise dedicated railway sidings inside the port. This will be increasing its installed capacity to 45 mt.

“After this phase, the port will have six dedicated coal berths with two ship un-loaders at each berth and a conveyor system with a capacity of 2,000 tonnes per hour. The draft is also being increased to 20 m by the end of this fiscal,” the port official said

As it is, the port is expected to see a greater rush of coal traffic, with a total of 14,000 MW of power projects coming up with a 10 km radius—these include Reliance's 4,000-MW unit and APGenco's 1,600-MW plant. “These projects alone will require coal of over 60 mt per annum,” the official said.

(This article was published on May 18, 2011)
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