APSEZ has unveiled ambitious expansion plans for Kattupalli port, within a month of signing a share purchase agreement with Larsen & Toubro Ltd in June to complete the acquisition of the port located near Chennai.

India’s biggest private port operator plans to ramp up the capacity of Kattupalli to handle a whopping 259 million tonnes (mt) of cargo from the existing 24.65 mt and has filed a revised master plan with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to begin the approval process.

Revised master plan

At this capacity, Kattupalli will match the scale and size of Mundra in Gujarat and Dhamra in Odisha, both owned by APSEZ. The company hasn’t revealed the investment involved in the expansion as it will be done in phases. The planned expansion will also make Kattupalli India’s deepest port with a berth depth of as much as 25 metres while the depth of the basin area and approach channel will be 25 metres and 27 metres respectively, according to papers filed by APSEZ for the revised master plan.

Kattupalli has approval for constructing five berths with total quay length of 1,900 metres, according to the original master plan.

APSEZ plans to build 7,329 metres of additional quay length besides another 1,250 metres of quay for barge berths.

The expansion will help APSEZ transform into a multi-commodity port for handling cargo such as liquid, bulk, break-bulk, project cargo, dry cargo, general cargo, containers, ro-ro, automobile and other non-hazardous cargoes such as liquid, gas and cryogenic cargo.

“Depending on the business requirements, LNG will also be handled through a floating storage and regassification unit (FSRU) and LPG will be handed through a floating storage and off-loading (FSO) facility, in addition to land-based terminal,” according to the revised master plan. BusinessLine has reviewed a copy of the revised plan.

Apart from the existing breakwater, two new breakwaters of about 9.35 km length are proposed to be built, out of which the new Northern breakwaters will be about 6.2 km and 1.3 km and the new southern breakwater will be about 1.85 km.

Currently, Kattupalli handles only containers from two berths with quay length of 710 metre, 6 quay cranes, 15 rubber-tyred gantry cranes, 5,120 ground slots with the capacity to handle 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per annum.

With backup area of 322 acres, Kattupalli port has ample space for future expansion to facilitate trade requirements, it said. Kattupalli port, according to APSEZ, is emerging as Chennai’s new gateway for exim trade in the Chennai/Bengaluru region.

Amongst the many advantages of Kattupalli port is its location — just 30 km north of Chennai and with connectivity with the hinterlands of North Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Bengaluru regions and South Andhra Pradesh – locations which are highly industrialised.

Rationale for acquisition

“The whole idea of getting into Kattupalli was not just to drive the container volumes but also to focus on coal, fertiliser and agri, among others,” Karan Adani, the CEO of APSEZ told BusinessLine in an interview in June.

“There are large volumes there which the Chennai port is unable to handle and that cargo has either moved to Tuticorin or Krishnapatnam. And, that’s actually a hinterland of Chennai. This was our rationale for acquiring Kattupalli,” Karan said.