Andhra Pradesh commanded a lion’s share of over 46 per cent in the total basket of new port projects being implemented across Indian maritime States.

The port sector in Andhra Pradesh is set to receive a significant boost with the decks cleared for setting up of a second major port in the State.

The proposal to set up the port, with an initial capacity of six berths in Prakasam district, has been already placed before the Union Cabinet — the initial investment will be of Rs 8,000 crore.

While the State Government will hold about 11 per cent stake in the project, the rest will be picked by the other PSUs such as NMDC and steel companies, who are the major users of the port facilities.

Once commissioned, the State will have two major ports, the other being the country’s premier Visakhapatnam port, and 14 non-major ports.

Having occupied the top slot amongst all major ports in terms of throughput for six consecutive years, it slipped to the second position, after Kandla, in the last two years.

However, the port, which currently handles about 70 million tonnes of cargo annually, is expanding its capacity, after which it could regain the lost position.

Rs 3,500-cr expansion

The Rs 3,500-crore expansion, which includes setting up three coal berths, a fertiliser berth, a liquid cargo berth and a general cargo berth, are all scheduled for completion within a year.

It is being implemented through the (public-private partnership) PPP route, with private sector port players such as Essar, involved in the capacity building exercise.

The three non-major ports in the State, Gangavaram, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam ports, together handle about 40 million tonnes.

The State Government has prepared a master plan that envisages increasing the capacity of its non-major ports to handle 175 million tonnes in 2020.

Immediate on the anvil are two ports at Machilipatnam and Nizampatnam, with 20 million tonnes and 15 million tonnes capacity respectively.

Gangavaram port is expanding its capacity from 15 million tonnes to 45 million tonnes by adding three multi-purpose berths and a coal handling terminal, which may be commissioned by next year.

Already the port has made waves in the industry due to the natural draft that it has, allowing bigger ships to anchor.

A recently study by trade body Assocham has pointed out that Andhra Pradesh commanded a lion’s share of over 46 per cent in the total basket of new port projects being implemented across Indian maritime States.

The State is currently implementing three projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in the ports sector under the PPP model as on April 2013, according to a study.

However, the study revealed that Andhra Pradesh comes fourth in terms of completion of port-related projects in the Eleventh Plan period — it completed three projects worth Rs 1,425 crore, with a share of 5.8 per cent in the completed projects pie.

Indeed, Andhra Pradesh is well on its way to becoming a major logistics hub not only in the realm of sea transportation but also air cargo.

Air Cargo hub

The Rajiv Gandhi International airport, located at the centre of the country’s production hub with a strong regional connectivity, is gaining ground as India’s first full-fledged air cargo hub.

With more than 20 important domestic and other South Asian cities located less then two hours of flying time away and South-East Asian cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and Westa Asia cities four hours away, the airport is gearing up to cash in on this natural advantage.

Hyderabad airport currently handles over one lakh tonnes a year, which can be modularly scaled up to 1.5 lakh tonnes.

Lufthansa has already nominated the airport as its pharma hub and Cathay Pacific recently added Hyderabad with a twice-a-week Boeing 747 freighter service. Also Thai Airways and Blue Dart are offering main-deck through their Boeing 747-400F MD-11F and Boeing 757F freighters.

More airlines

In addition, about 18 scheduled airlines, including 13 international, have cargo bases here, offering belly spaces, ranging from 2-3 tonnes in a 737 type aircraft and 20-25 tonnes in the larger 747 type aircraft.

The airport has a 33,000-tonne capacity dedicated temperature-controlled pharma zone, a 20-acre Free Trade Zone with warehousing and distribution and the integrated terminal operated by GMR and Menzies Aviation of the UK.

New initiatives include cool container links for pharma products, general and temperature-controlled warehouses within the cargo village, promotion of road feeder services and 24x7 customs clearance of cargoes.

(This article was published on August 29, 2013)
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