Gangavaram port plans to shift away from coal

Santanu Sanyal Recently at Gangavaram | Updated on August 25, 2011

gangavaram   -  Business Line

The share of coal in Gangavaram port's traffic basket is to gradually decline as the port authorities propose to target more of non-coal traffic in coming years, according to port sources.

Right now coal accounts for nearly 70 per cent of the port's total traffic – 10 million tonnes (mt) out of a total of 14 mt (2010-11). In 2013-14 when the port capacity is to rise to 44-45 mt, the share of coal will drop to less than 50 per cent to around 20 mt, the sources point out.

By 2013-14, when the proposed Rs 1,200-crore capacity expansion programme of the port will be completed, the number of coal berths will rise from one to two while the number of multi-purpose berths from three to six.

The new cargoes which, the port authorities hope, will materialise in the coming years will include imports of alumina and bauxite, fertiliser import in larger quantities, limestone import, slag exports, containers and LNG imports.

The Vedanta Group, it is felt, will be required to import alumina and bauxite for its smelters in Orissa as the local sourcing of the mineral and its processing might become difficult due to the enforcement of stringent environment protection laws.

The port already handles limited quantities of fertiliser which is a slow-moving cargo; also rate-wise not highly remunerative, say sources.

But the volume of imports will only increase in the coming years. The import of project cargo, already being handled in limited volumes, is another area holding out promise, it is felt.

Finally, Petronet LNG has shown interest in developing facilities at the port to handle the gas. But then a decision in this regard will be firmed up only after a survey of other locations at a few other east coast ports and finalisation of the detailed project report in another five to six months.

infrastructure bottlenecks

At present, Gangavaram port suffers from infrastructure bottlenecks, hitting rail movement which accounts for the bulk of cargo movement to and from the port. The slow evacuation of the imported materials is a matter of concern. At any point of time an estimated one million tonnes of imported materials lie uncleared within the port premises, say sources.

One reason for this is the railway bottleneck. But then the railways cannot be held responsible for the bottleneck. There is restriction on wagon movement for eight to 10 hours in a day to facilitate movement of employees of Vizag steel plant across the railway track.

Also, the importers would often prefer to use the port premises for storage purpose.

For railways, there is yet another problem. It is required to move empties into the port to facilitate evacuation of the imported material as there is a mismatch between import and export traffic.

The requirement of rakes for evacuation of imported coal far exceeds the availability. This adds to the cost.

The port sources hope that the present railway bottleneck will be eased to a great extent once the road over-bridge across the track is thrown open to traffic, making movement of employees of the Vizag steel plant easier and thus removing the restriction on wagon movement.

There is a further proposal to construct a second line over the 3.5-km stretch between the port railway and network of the Indian Railways. At present it is a single line link.

Published on August 24, 2011

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