VOC to carry the torch, new momentum gains

R.S.Rangarajan | Updated on February 18, 2011

bl19_mdu Tuty Harbour.jpg

The Tuticorin Port is poised for a historically significant name change as V.O.Chidhambaranar Port as a mark of respect and recognition of a freedom fighter from the region.


Tuticorin, which is a emerging energy, industry and export cum service hub in south Tamil Nadu with a long and illustrious history, dating back to centuries, has strong links with India's independence struggle from early 20 {+t}{+h} century. It has given India, many great freedom fighters, like poet Subramanya Bharathi, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Vanchinathan etc.,. Among these, in 1906, Mr. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, launched the first swadeshi ship in British India, a daring activity then in competition to the Brittish. On 12{+t}{+h} November 1906, he formed the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, by purchasing two steamships ‘ S.S.Gaelia' and ‘S.S.Lawoe', The ships commenced regular service between Tuticorin and Colombo against the opposition of the British traders and the Imperial Government. He thus laid the foundation for a comprehensive shipping industry in the country.

Inspired by this illustrious patriot, another son of the soil, Mr. PSTS. Thiraviaratnam foresaw the need for professional shipping management even before India's Independence and launched PSTS Ship Agency in the year 1940. It was he , who as Secretary of the Tuticorin Harbour Development Council, went with the team to New Delhi in 1958 to meet the first Prime Minister of India - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and paved way for the early recognition of Tuticorin as one of the major ports of the country.

Located just 20 hours from the East-West Trade route, the Port has the distinction of being one of the few in the country to attract mainline container vessels.


Declared as a minor anchorage port in 1868, it witnessed a flourishing trade after Independence, handling cargo for the neibhouring countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives etc. and coastal regions of India.To cope with the increasing trade, the Government of India sanctioned the construction of an all-weather Port at Tuticorin. On July 11,1974, the newly constructed Tuticorin Port was declared as the 10th major port. On 1st April 1979, the erstwhile Tuticorin minor Port and the newly constructed Tuticorin major Port were merged and the Tuticorin Port Trust was constituted under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.


From then on, the port has developed by leaps and bounds. In support, the Nanguneri Special Economic Zone, Gangaikondan/Sipcot Industrial estates, and connectivity by air, rail, road have added attraction. The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, a dream project of Tamil Nadu, is holding lot of promise.

To support industrialization, human resources are available, evident from the vast pool of talent reflected in the educational infrastructure in the region. The ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo has been sanctioned and is expected to start by early March.

The port is connected to ICDs at Tirupur, Karur, Salem, Coimbatore and Bangalore. During the 10 years between 1997-98 to 2007-08, the port has grown by a compounded annual growth rate of about 8% per annum .Even during the recent economic downturn, it has had a continuous and steady flow of exports and imports through the Port due to its efficiency, vision and market orientation. During the financial year 2009-10, the Port has handled its highest ever volume of 23.78 million tonnes, which is 8% higher than the volume handled during the previous fiscal.

New Initiatives:

The impressive cargo growth rate has induced the Port Management to take proactive steps to augment the port infrastructure facilities. The Port is poised to enhance the existing capacity from 22.81 million tonnes to 52.12 million tonnes in 2015-16 and subsequently to 72.82 million tonnes in 2019-20 through various projects like construction of North Cargo Berth – I, II, III, IV, Construction of two shallow draft berths, Dredging the Dock basin to cater to handling bigger vessels, Mechanisation of Berths, System development through ERP and further strengthening of Port Security.

CII Vision Statement:

The Confederation of Indian Industry, in its vision statement for Tuticorin, has suggested that the Central Government, among others, should develop the Port as a major deep water port and transform it into a major container transshipment hub for the country; connect Madurai through a 8-lane highway to nearby urban centres through 4 lane highways and to Chennai through East Coast Road.

The State Government, among others should set up a Tuticorin Development Authority to oversee the planned and integrated development of the industrial and commercial areas and improve and promote tourism assets around Tuticorin.

The ultimate objective, according to Mr.A.Subbiah, Chairman , Tuticorin Port Trust , is to match in focus and mission with the needs of customers and employees and grow into an organisation that is second to none in building new value and bringing happiness to customers.

Published on February 18, 2011

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