NMPT chief calls for drilling of tunnel on Shiradi ghat stretch

Our Bureau Mangaluru | Updated on November 25, 2019

AV Ramana, Chairman, of NMPT   -  H_S_MANJUNATH /THE HINDU

To improve connectivity to the hinterland, New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) has stressed the need to develop a tunnel on the Shiradi ghat stretch  on the Mangaluru-Bengaluru highway.

Addressing the ‘Karnataka Ports, Shipping and Logistics Summit’, jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations and India Sea Trade in Mangaluru, AV Ramana, Chairman of NMPT, said  some portions of the hinterland cargo from Karnataka is moving to other ports such as Krishnapatnam, Chennai and Kochi because of the time factor and not because of cost factor.

4-lane proposal

Referring to the proposal to convert the stretch of the national highway between Bantwal in Dakshina Kannada to Maranahalli in Hassan district into four-lane one, he said there is a need to make a 23-km-long tunnel on the Shiradi ghat stretch on that route.

What is being planned now is to make the two-lane highway into a four-lane highway. But still the vehicles will have to negotiate the ghat.  A better solution is to  drill a 23-km-long tunnel that will  bring down the travel time  and reduce  fuel consumption, Ramana said.

Once this happens, NMPT will become as competitive as any other port, he said and added  that around 2.45 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers are going from Karnataka through Krishnapatnam, Chennai and Kochi. The development of a  tunnel on the  stretch will help bring all these cargo to  NMPT as it will reduce both time and cost to the export-import sector, he said.

Coastal cargo

Stressing the need to improve the coastal cargo from NMPT, Ramana said the port now handles around 7-8 million tonnes (mt) of coastal cargo. “This year, we have a target to reach 10 mt,” he said.

NMPT is allowing  coastal vessels to berth on priority basis  and is giving a discount of 40 per cent on all the coastal cargo vessels. This is going to be a big boost to the coastal cargo and the local economy, he said.

On the traffic handling plans for the current financial year,  Ramana said the port handled 42.5 mt in 2018-19. Because of extended monsoon and three cyclones from April to November,  the movement of fertilizers, salt and chemicals was affected.

“In spite of this, we want to even out the figures between December and March. This year, we will be handling 43.5 mt to 44 mt, keeping the turnaround time at 36 hours,” he said.

Published on November 25, 2019

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