Chennai Port Trust plans to convert coal berth into container terminal

T. E. Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on August 13, 2013 Published on August 13, 2013

The Chennai Port Trust plans to convert the Jawahar Dock (East) berth into a small container terminal.

The berth was used to handle coal till a few years back, but has been lying unused after coal handling was shifted to Ennore port.

A proposal for a Rs 4,200-crore mega container terminal failed to attract good response from potential bidders. Hence, the Port Trust now wants to create a small container terminal to handle around 800,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) a year. The terminal will compete with the two existing container terminal operated by DP World Chennai and Chennai International Terminals of the Port of Singapore Authority .

The Port Trust plans to give the JD East berth to a private player on a 30-year concession on design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis.

Three months ago, the Port Trust had plans to continue handling bulk products at the JD East berth. It also invited proposals for this from financial consultants and transaction advisors for a Rs 275-crore project through Public Private Partnership on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer.

However, the plan was changed in favour of a container terminal as the consultant, Jacobs Engineering India, felt the port may not be able to attract bulk cargo, said the Port Trust Chairman, Atulya Mishra. The board, too, approved the proposals in its last meeting, he told Business Line.

When asked about the feasibility of the project when the two existing terminals are struggling to attract cargo, Mishra said the future lies in containerisation. In India, only 20 per cent of cargo is moved by containers while globally it is 60-70 per cent, he said.

A lot of modifications will be required before giving JD East to the private player. For instance, the approach channel for ships to enter the Jawahar Dock is quite narrow and needs to be widened. Access to the terminal by road is tough and needs modifications, the official said.

Also, on the East side, there are large storage tanks and godowns that need to be removed to make space to stack containers, he said.

> raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 13, 2013
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