VPT sets ball rolling on cruise terminal, berth

More than a year after announcing its plans to set up a berth to handle cruise ships, the port of Visakhapatnam has set the ball rolling on making the berth into a reality by inviting and approving the design of the berth and a cruise terminal, PL Haranadh, deputy chairman of the Visakhapatnam Port Trust said recently.

“IIT-Madras has designed the berth while the Mumbai-based Creative Group has designed the terminal for the cruise berth. We are now waiting for the Environmental Assessment Report (EIA), which is being prepared by one of VPT’s approved vendors. The EIA report is expected by end-March,” Haranadh told over phone.

He said VPT will be building the cruise berth in the channel. “We will be rebuilding an existing general cargo berth into the cruise terminal. VPT decided to build a berth for cruise ships based on the potential for cruise ships at all major ports in the county projected by EY, a consulting firm,” he said.

The cruise berth and terminal is estimated to cost Rs 77 crore. “The ministry of tourism will be funding 50% of the cost of the berth and terminal, while VPT will be funding the balance of 50%,” Haranadh said. VPT will build the berth.

“We expect to begin the construction of the berth early in the next financial year,” he said.

Former VPT chairman MT Krishna Babu had said in December 2018 that the berth was expected to be commissioned within two years of getting all the approvals.

The berth would be 180 metres in length and have two mooring dolphins on either side to berth cruise vessels of a length of 300 metres with a draft of 8.1 metres.

The cruise terminal would have a back up area of 15,000 square metres, internal roads, sewer, water supply facilities, drainage system, parking lots, illuminated area, along with a built up area of 200 square metres, installed with CCTV cameras, rest rooms, central air-conditioning, duty free shops, foreign currency exchange counters and offices of tourism and travel operators.

Meanwhile, Haranadh said, the port expects to register a total cargo throughput of a record 70 million tonnes (mt) in 2019-20, against a target of 68 mt. “We have been witnessing good growth in all the cargos we handle, so VPT could cross a cargo throughput of 70 mt,” he said.

Asked what VPT was doing about leasing out its surplus land in Visakhapatnam city, Haranadh said the port was focussing on increasing its cargo handling capacity. “Currently, the port is designed to handle 126 mt of cargo. Once our expansion program is completed, the capacity will be increased to 148 mt, which we believe will be sufficient to handle cargo for many more years into the future,” he said. “VPT will take up the development of every inch of surplus land in the city after the port expansion plan is completed,” he added.