Karaikal port in expansion mode

T.E. Raja Simhan Vidya Bala Recently in Karaikal | Updated on February 27, 2011 Published on February 27, 2011

New berths being constructed at the Marg Karaikal port, as it gears up to attract more users. — Bijoy Ghosh   -  Business Line

Officials of Karaikal port, the private port sandwiched between the major ports of Chennai and Tuticorin, are hoping that users from the industrial belts of Tamil Nadu will find their port more attractive to do business given its location advantage. This private port, located in the Union Territory of Puducherry, can serve nearby industrial belts such as Erode, Salem, Tiruppur and Trichy.

Infrastructure and real estate player Marg Ltd is developing the Karaikal port. According to Mr G.R.K. Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director, Marg, the nearby industrial towns would be able to cut short their transportation by at least 150 km if they use the Karaikal port instead of the ports in Chennai and Tuticorin.

“Customers can overall save up to Rs 700 per tonne by using the Karaikal port over the neighbouring ports,” he said. “There will be an average saving of about Rs 300 per tonne on transportation alone if one considers the (distance) differential of 150 km between Karaikal port and the other two ports.”

Besides, port efficiencies such as lower holding time of just about a day compared with 4-5 days of typical holding time in other ports, and stock variation of less than the standard norm of 1 per cent add to the cost savings of customers, said Mr Reddy.

Second phase

The port, which is currently operating two berths for coal and general cargo such as cement and fertiliser will have five more berths ready by October.

This is part of the second phase of its expansion — costing Rs 1,569 crore — to create a capacity of 21 million tonnes of cargo per annum. Dredging of the harbour basin, along with construction of berths, is in full swing at the port. While the port's draft will be increased to 16.5 m, the breakwater will be extended and the channel and turning circle will be widened to handle large vessels.

The new berths will handle liquid and general cargo. Mr Reddy hopes to clock 17 million tonnes of cargo by FY-13, after the second phase of expansion. After the third and final phase, which is expected to be completed by FY-17, the port is envisaged to have nine berths capable of handling 47 MTPA. The port will be capable of handling all types of cargo such as dry bulk, break bulk, liquid bulk and containerised cargo in independent zones, he said. Karaikal Port had a year ago entered in to an agreement with Chennai Petroleum Corporation (CPCL) to allow the latter to put up a pipeline linking the port to the company's pipeline.

CPCL has a captive terminal at Nagapattinam to import crude and export refined products. They have a jetty, which is about 1 km into the sea. The refinery has been operating below capacity for want of crude oil. With this agreement, CPCL will be able to increase its capacity by bringing crude oil from the Krishna-Godavari basin.

The pipeline link, according to Mr Reddy, has got environment clearance to be laid across the Vettar river and the project can be expected to be completed by June 2011.

On apprehensions of local people about the environmental impact of laying the pipeline across the river, a port official said as the pipeline will be laid deep under the river bed, there was no cause of worry. This was also conveyed to the people of the locality, which has a small fishing harbour.

Nagore-Karaikal connection

According to Mr Reddy, Karaikal port could also see increased volumes once Karaikal city is linked by rail to Nagore. The port is currently linked to Nagore, which is about 3 km away.

The rail link between Karaikal City and Nagore is being developed by Southern Railway. This link will connect Karaikal port with the cement, steel, chemical, aluminium, textile and other major manufacturing industries in Ariyalur, Trichy and Salem districts and the upcoming industrial nodes around Mayiladuthurai, enabling heavy freight movement in the near future.

While there is a link from the port to the south, the new link will connect the northern belt. This link will pass just outside the port boundary where a set of three railway sidings are operational, said a port official.

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Published on February 27, 2011
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