Predicting a bright future for Visakhapatnam Port, its outgoing Chairman M.T. Krishna Babu on Thursday said continuing its growth trajectory it is poised to become a modern port by increasing its capacity to 145 million tonnes in the next two years.
The capacity of the port, which was 67 million tonnes in 2014, has gone up to 127 million tonnes in the past five years due to heavy investments. A total of 15 capacity addition projects were taken up with an investment of 3,171 crore of which 11 projects have been completed and four are in various stages of execution.
Mr. Krishna Babu, whose five-year term will end on May 11, told reporters that he was demitting office with a sense of satisfaction as with the support of the workforce and all the stakeholders he had removed the dirty port tag attached to the port due to stringent control measures and cargo handling in mechanised environment.
Besides shortage of railway rakes for faster evacuation of cargo, another problem which had remained unresolved was the construction of covered storage for coal, he pointed out. “I am hopeful that the first covered storage for coal with a capacity of 2.5-3 lakh tonnes will be operational in two years. IIT-Madras has been engaged to conduct a study on this. The Government of India gives 50% grant for the facility.”
Mr. Krishna Babu said he was confident that his successor would take up construction of four covered storage facilities with a combined capacity of 10 to 12 lakh tonnes.
On ease of doing business, the Chairman said they had increased the draft in the Inner Harbour from 11 to 14.5 metres draft by spending 300 crore to facilitate enable entry of Panamax vessels with a capacity of 200,000 DWT without lightening in the Outer Harbour. “Now we are dismantling 85-year old berths in phases to make them compatible to receive Panamax ships. The process is advanced stage of completion, which has become a turning point for scripting our success story,” he said.
Stating that they were maintaining a healthy balance between PPP investors and the port in handling cargo, he said the port had invested nearly 1,200 crore in capacity augmentation from its internal accruals.