M T Krishna Babu, IAS, Chairman, Visakhapatnam Port Trust

Despite having the deepest port in India, Visakhapatnam Port registered minimal growth in 2016-17 compare to Kandla and Paradip Port, Sri Krishna Babu, Chairman of Visakhapatnam Port, explained the reasons behind it and the future potentials of the port with KMP Patnaik, Consulting Editor, Maritime World Services. Excerpts…

Despite having a private major Gangavaram Port next door, Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), the premier port in the East Coast, is all set to handle 60 million tonnes of cargo by end of this current financial year, registering a growth of 7.89 percent over the last financial year. It was around 57 million tonnes in 2016.

The VPT emerged as the leading port in 2007 and continued to remain in the top position for five consecutive years but subsequently lost to Kandla in Gujarat and Paradeep Port, Odisha. Kandla Port achieved a turnover of 100 million tons last year and Paradeep 75 million tonnes. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Mumbai Port Trust and Visakhapatnam Port Trust share the same position with a difference of a million or half million tons. Of the 100 million tons, Kandla handled 70 million tonnes of crude oil and finished oil alone and 30 million tons of dry cargo.

Similarly, out 75 million tonnes, Paradeep Port handled 35 million tonnes of crude and finished oil.

The Visakhapatnam Port Trust attributes the growth to revival of iron ore export to Japan and South Korea, which stopped last year due to expiry of long term lease. The National Mineral Development Corporation renewed the lease for 15 years with these two countries this year and VPT exported 3 million tonnes of ore to these two countries during the current financial year.

“The export of ore will be 5 million tonnes in the next financial year,” said Krishna Babu.

Talking to this correspondent, he said that the handling of coal could have increased the turnover but for the restrictions imposed by the government. The Coal India Limited has propelled its growth and government has been insisting the public sector thermal power stations to use local coal. The government has also imposed minimum import price on the coal. There was also decrease in the import of coking coal as steel mills all over the country have been registering negative growth.

Krishna Babu assured, “The Port will witness more growth in the ensuing years as it was taking up huge modernization programme with an investment of Rs 600 crore. The port will have six most modern berths having 14.5-meter draft.”

“Incidentally Visakhapatnam Port is the deepest port in the country having 18-meter draft in the outer harbor which can accommodate supermax vessel that can carry 2.55 lakh tonnes of cargo,’’ elucidated Krishna Babu.

The Port has already invested Rs 2,500 crore in end to end modernization of mechanization and other infrastructure.