The Visakhapatnam port has handled 51 million tonnes of cargo during the current financial year till the end of December, 1.5 million tonnes more than during the corresponding period last year, in spite of serious challenges in the market, according to Chairman MT Krishna Babu.

He was speaking here on Friday after hoisting the National Flag on the occasion of the Republic Day. He said the port was confident of achieving the target of 64 million tonnes by the end of the financial year. He said there was spurt in coking coal, steam coal, container cargo and other cargoes to the extent of 3 million tonnes, offsetting the decline in iron ore, POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants), and other cargoes.

Krishna Babu said the functioning of the port was quite satisfactory on all technical parameters, but there was still scope for improvement to match international standards. During the year, the port had also taken up coastal shipping of steel products of the Visakhapatnam steel plant to Mumbai, Kochi and Ahmedabad.

The bilateral trade agreement with Nepal was working well and so far 1900 TEUs of container cargo had been routed through Visakhapatnam to Nepal, he said.

Development projects Krishna Babu said the first phase of upgrading of the iron ore handling complex, being undertaken by Essar at a investment of ₹580 crore, was nearing completion and it would be operational shortly. Two new berths —WQ 7 and 8 — taken up at a cost of ₹243 crore will be ready by March. Reconstruction of old berths — EQ 2 to EQ 5 — would be completed by September at a cost of ₹182 crore. The development of an additional oil handling facility at OR 1 and OR 2 berths has been awarded at a cost of ₹185 crore.

The multi-modal logistics hub project — a joint venture with Balmer Lawrie & Co taken up at a cost of ₹211 crore — would be operational during the current financial year.

He said the port was also taking care of the environment and reducing pollution to the minimum levels. The 10-MW solar power project was functioning satisfactorily and the port has taken up plantation of 1.6 lakh saplings on its premises.

Krishna Babu spoke at length about the various activities taken up the port as a part of its CSR spending.