Diversified business conglomerate Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which has a controlling stake in Gopalpur port off the coast of south Odisha, envisions that port capacity will be 55 million tonnes (mt) by 2025.
Gopalpur port, a fair-weather deep draft port with the ability to simultaneously handle multiple vessels and diverse cargo, is slated to be dedicated to the nation by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on February 28.
After taking over the port in 2017, Shapoorji Pallonji Group had undertaken an expansion project entailing an investment of Rs 2,000 crore to enhance the capacity to 20 million tonne.
Gopalpur is strategically located between two major ports, Paradip in the north and Visakhapatnam in the south. It is expected to create a strategic shift in cargo movement pattern on the east-coast of India.
“The port will not only put Ganjam on the international maritime map, but will also be catalytic in spearheading the economic and inclusive development of the region. Apart from generating revenue for the government, Gopalpur port will also lead to creation of industrial hubs in the vicinity, shall provide significant economic benefits to Ganjam district and shall create direct and indirect employment opportunity for approximately 6,500 people”, the company said.
Gopalpur port has rail evacuation infrastructure and is connected to the national highway NH16 through NH 516. Enhanced infrastructure will provide optimal productivity and prompt turnaround for large vessels and varied cargo mix, it added.
The port's development work had suffered due to change in ownership structure and dithering by the original promoters to fund the expansion plan. The port development work was originally awarded in 2008 to Gopalpur Ports Limited , a consortium promoted by Odisha Stevedores Ltd, Sara International and Hong Kong-based Noble Group. It was to be developed as an all-weather port on BOOST (build, own, operate, share and transfer) basis.
Later, Noble Group exited the consortium in 2010. Sara International remained almost a quiet equity participant without showing serious intent to contribute to the port's funding. Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Sara International's stake but the deal failed.
The port's operations were also battered by two back to back tropical cyclones — Phailin and Hud Hud in 2013 and 2014 respectively. After repair work, the port resumed normal commercial operations in December 2015 and graduated to full-scale operations in April 2016.