The increase in cargo volumes at Mangalore is attributed to improved infrastructure both within the port and in its hinterland.
A. J. Vinayak
The New Mangalore Port, which has been registering growth in cargo volumes, is now offering a new facility to its users in the form of a deep-draught multipurpose berth to accommodate larger parcel size vessels.
Growth in the volumes of general and iron ore cargoes is one of the reasons for the port to attract larger parcel size vessels. The increase in cargo volumes has been attributed to improvements in infrastructure both within the port and its hinterland.
The traffic projection studies conducted by the port had suggested that a berth with 15-metre draught would be essential by 2020-21. With the commissioning of the deep-draught multipurpose general cargo berth, the port expects to increase its handling capacity by another three million tonnes a year. The New Mangalore Port has 14 berths.
The deep-draught multipurpose general cargo berth, which became operational recently, is the 14th at the port. Though Berths . 2 to 7 can handle general cargo, they do not have much depth. While Berths 2 and 3 have depths of 10.5 metre each, 5,6 and 7 are 9.75-metre deep. Berth 4 has a depth of 9.55 metre. And all these berths can handle ships of up to 30,000 DWT.
SHIFT TO BULK CARRIERS
A general trend among exporters and importers is to go for bulk carriers of 1 lakh DWT, which gives them the benefit of economies of scale. Considering this, the port has commissioned a 14-metre-draught berth that can handle 90,000 DWT vessels initially. Officials say that the new berth will be suitable for handling iron ore fines, coal and fertilisers. The port has witnessed significant growth in the volumes of these cargoes in the past few years.
Iron ore fines, which was not a major export commodity for the port till 2003-04, now contributes significantly to the traffic volume. Though the port exported 27,889 tonnes of iron ore fines during 1994-95, there was no export till 2002-03.
In 2003-04, the port exported 1.66 million tonnes of iron ore fines. With the boom in iron ore exports, the port registered a 234.22 per cent growth in the export of iron ore fines during 2004-05. During the period, 5.57 million tonnes of iron ore fines were exported. This fiscal, the port exported 4.30 million tonnes of iron ore fines in the first nine months itself.
The demand for coal in the hinterland has pushed the traffic volumes to considerable levels in the last few years. The import figures for coal, which stood at 41,158 tonnes during 1995-96, increased to 3.15 lakh tonnes during 2004-05. In the first nine months of this fiscal, it crossed the 3.83-lakh-tonne mark. Apart from coal, the fertiliser cargo has also witnessed a growth in terms of volumes handled. While the port imported only 86,589 tonnes of fertilisers in 1994-95, it went up to 3.53 lakh tonnes in 2004-05.
In the first nine months of 2005-06, there has been a growth of 117.33 per cent in terms of volumes handled. During the period, the port handled 4.71 lakh tonnes of fertiliser cargo against 2.16 lakh tonnes in the corresponding previous period.
The growth in the volumes of iron ore fines, coal, and fertiliser has made the port authorities optimistic about the prospects of deep-draught berth.
Considering the potential for these cargoes in the hinterland, the port has conducted trade meets at Bellary, Mysore and Bangalore where a majority of mine owners and exporters of other bulk cargo attended the meeting.
On February 14, the port conducted the berth dedication ceremony at Bangalore to attract the investors, exporters and importers, as most of them have their corporate offices in the State capital.
The Union Shipping Minister, Mr T. R. Baalu, dedicated the berth to the nation.
Members from the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who attended the meeting, have shown interest in bringing more cargo to the new berth, port officials say.
Built at a cost of Rs 40.82 crore by Navyug Constructions Ltd of Visakhapatnam in 24 months, the deep-draught berth can handle one million tonnes of iron ore cargo with semi-mechanised facility till the third year of operation.
At the end of the fourth year of operation, the port hopes to handle three million tonnes of cargo with fully mechanised facility.
The port began formal operations at the berth on February 19 with m.v. Ocean Paradise berthing there to load 46,500 tonnes of iron ore fines to China.