Visakhapatnam port, which lost premier port slot to Kandla in 2007-08 after retaining it for seventh consecutive year, is on a growth trajectory by handling 54.55 million tonne during the current fiscal – up by 4.1 million tonne compared to the corresponding period last year registering a growth rate of 8.1%.
With five weeks to go for winding up the financial year, the port is firmly poised to not only achieve the target set by the Ministry of Shipping but also surpassing it.
All this is possible despite slowdown and demonetisation hitting the port sector, due to steps taken to improve efficiency parameters by Chairman M.T. Krishna Babu as per recommendations made by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The port has stood fourth in all India percentage growth with Goa standing No. 1 with 61%, Paradip 18% and Kochi 11% as on January 31. Similarly, in handling cargo Kandla is the frontrunner with 88 million tonne followed by Paradip 73 million tonne. As per projections, Visakhapatnam port might get fourth rank ahead of JNPT. Now Visakhapatnam and JNPT are in a neck and neck race. This will be for the first time since it relegated to fifth rank.
Increase in turnaround time, drastic cuts in handling charges and improvement in techno-efficiency parameters have led to increased handling of cargo notwithstanding stiff competition in the neighbourhood and downward slide in the industry.
Capacity augmentation and modernisation programmes have also put the port in an advantageous position with plans to increase the throughput significantly in years ahead.
The port, which now has a capacity to handle 98 million tonne, will have additional capacity of four million tonne with the completion of first phase of Essar Greenfield Iron Ore Terminal and six million tonne with the commissioning of West Quay-7 and 8 during next fiscal.
Commenting on increase in throughput this year, a senior official of the port told The Hindu that they could handle five million tonne of iron ore and pellets due to MMTC’s long-term agreement for supply to South Africa and Japan and increase in container traffic by 1.2 million tonne.
Thermal coal improved by 0.5 million tonne due to consignments taken by Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. However, steam coal fell down by 3.5 million tonne over last year.
Coking coal, petroleum products, fertilizer and raw material also suffered a slide by 0.5 million tonne compared to corresponding period last year.