The Central government has officially dumped plans to build a new port at Dugarajapatnam in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh a few days after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulled out of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government over denial of special category status to the residual State of Andhra Pradesh.
“The development of a new port at Dugarajapatnam was examined by NITI Aayog, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Finance and Government of Andhra Pradesh, and it has been concluded that the project will not be viable due to strong competition from nearby ports of Krishnapatnam, Ennore and Chennai. The Ministry of Shipping has requested the Government of Andhra Pradesh to furnish its comments on the recommendations of NITI Aayog and also to suggest alternative site(s) for the development of a major port in Andhra Pradesh. The government of Andhra Pradesh has not suggested any alternative site so far,” a spokesman for the Shipping Ministry said.
In May 2013, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government headed by Manmohan Singh, approved building a new port at Dugarajapatnam as part of a plan to expand port capacity. The new port was to be set up as a Central government-owned port/major port under the Companies Act with equity participation of 74 per cent from the Central government through Visakhapatnam Port Trust and 26 per cent from the AP government.
The CCEA decision came as a surprise to many in the Shipping Ministry because the then Congress-led government in Andhra Pradesh had recommended Ramayapatnam in the Prakasam district to host the new port from a list of two other locations that included Nakkapalli in Visakhapatnam district and Dugarajapatnam in Nellore district.
The Andhra Pradesh government had recommended Ramayapatnam as the location for the new port after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) raised concerns on the development of a new port at Dugarajapatnam because of its proximity to the satellite-launching centre at Sriharikota.
ISRO has since diluted its concerns to the new port site at Dugarajapatnam, and suggested some restrictions on port operations during a satellite launch. The Shipping Ministry, in turn, had suggested Dugarajapatnam and Ramayapatnam to the CCEA for a final call. The CCEA picked Dugarajapatnam over Ramayapatnam because of the availability of adequate land to set up the port.