Masula: A slice of history and a wave of nostalgia

G Naga Sridhar Machilipatnam | Updated on April 16, 2019 Published on April 16, 2019

Navayuga Engineering Company has started preliminary work on the first phase of the deep-sea port in Machilipatnam

Locals elated over commencement of work on the famed Machilipatnam port

For M Raju of Pateru village in Machilipatnam port area, the 2,000-year-old port of call is both a vignette of a glorious past and a subject of an earnest yearning.

“We grew up hearing tales on how ships set sail from here to the ancient Roman Empire and about the presence of the French, British and Dutch traders here in the 17th century.’’

Many other locals such as M Bhanumurty of Manginapudi village in the heart of the port land too cherish many stories about the lost glory of ‘Bandar’ as Machilipatnam is popularly known.

Known as Masula in Greek records, the port took local weaves to global markets.

None of the locals had seen any major shipping activity since 1864 when the British almost abandoned the port after a big tidal wave claimed many lives, leaving only a small spot for fishing.

But now, there is hope on the horizon. Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd (NECL) has commenced preliminary work on the first phase of a deep-sea port after a formal ground-breaking ceremony held in February.

“We are deploying a structural breakwater design, which is first of its kind in the world,’’ Subba Rao Tummala, General Manager, Navayuga Machilipatnam Port Ltd (NMPL) and site-incharge, told BusinessLine.

The layout of the breakwater and berths has been designed in such a way so as to ensure complete tranquillity in port waters.

The first phase of the port, to be spread across 4,800 acres, will have four operational berths and 40 million tonnes capacity (out of a total of 150 million tonnes) and is expected to be completed in 18 months, the company claims. The port has faced many obstacles since 2007 when the contract was first given to Maytas, an arm of the infamous Satyam group. After many fiascos thereafter, the contract was finally given to Navayuga.

Land pooling

The State government, in 2014, decided to go for land-pooling to acquire 5,324 acres, out of which 2,200 acres were private land parcels. The process got delayed and finally about 412 acres were handed over to NMPL to facilitate commencement of work.

But is the port out of choppy waters? “We don’t expect any trouble. Because after a decade, this is first time that we see machinery being brought here and work happening,’’ said Bhanumurhty, who gave 60 acres for the port.

“Over the next couple of years, we hope to see ships anchored here again after many centuries,’’ says Samuel, a weaver from the region.

Published on April 16, 2019
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