Visakhapatnam, July 10
The Gangavaram port in Visakhapatnam district is scheduled to be officially inaugurated, on Sunday, by the Chief Minister, Dr Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, almost a year after it started functioning. Several times during the past one year it was speculated that Ms Sonia Gandhi would inaugurate the port, but it kept being postponed and then it could not be inaugurated because of the elections. Finally, the Chief Minister inaugurates the port on Sunday.
The port, developed by the Mr D. V. S Raju-led consortium, has five berths in the first phase built at a cost of Rs 2,000 crores. It is said to be the port with the deepest draft (21 m) in the country. Mechanised handling facilities have been installed at the port. It is capable of receiving capsize vessels of 2,00,000 DWT.
Located in the backyard of the Visakhapatnam steel plant, it will be of great help, but in the bargain it will take away a sizeable chunk of cargo from the main port of Visakhapatnam.
The port has already handled 4-5 million tonnes of cargo and during the current fiscal it is expected to handle 13-15 million tonnes of cargo.
Controversy has raged from the beginning over the relief and rehabilitation package given to the villagers of Gangavaram and Dibbapalem displaced by the construction of the port. The displaced fishermen have been demanding construction of a fishing jetty at a spot convenient for them, but it has not been conceded. The promised jobs have also not been provided yet.
At a recent review meeting in Hyderabad, the Chief Minister is reported to have told the officials of the Gangavaram Port Limited that the promise should be honoured as soon as possible. Subsequently, the port authorities have initiated some steps in that direction.