Paradip will handle 70 million tonne of cargo in the future

Updated: Apr 29 2008, 01:49am hrs
K Raghuramaiah, a senior railway officer, joined the Paradip Port Trust as chairman in October 2005. During his two-and-half year tenure, Raghuramaiah turned the port in the eastern region into a vibrant commercial hub. With a higher cargo-handling capability, the ports cash surplus has touched a new high. In an excusive interview with FEs Dilip Bisoi, Raghuramaiah spells out his strategy and vision for Paradip to become a leading port of the country. Excerpts:

Paradip Port is one of the 12 major ports of India. How it is placed vis--vis other major ports

Paradip Port handled 38.52 million tonne of cargo traffic during 2006-07, registering growth of 6.34% over the previous year and was placed seventh vis--vis the other major ports of the country in terms of the volume of cargo handled. In the current financial year, the port is likely to remain in the same position though it is expected to handle a little above 42 million tone of cargo.

Is the traffic competitive compared with other ports on the eastern coast

Competitiveness in traffic is decided on the total logistic cost to exporters and importers. The port cost is not very significant in comparison with the total cost of the transportation chain. The cost incurred at the port barely influences the decision to choose a particular port for imports or exports. The Central Regulatory Authority set the port tariffs and hence, this cannot be considered uncompetitive. Besides, the choice of a port for imports and exports is decided on the basis of its proximity to the origin or the destination of cargo. In terms of dry bulk cargo such as iron ore and coal, Paradip Port remains competitive since it is closer to the hinterland where such cargo (iron ore, chrome ore and coal) originates.

What are your plans to develop the port to meet the growing demands and provide services at international benchmarks

Paradip Port has made elaborate plans for expansion so that it can meet the growing demands. Two BOT berths, one to handle iron ore exports and the other to handle imported coal (of 10 MTPA each) are proposed to be commissioned over the next three years. The single point mooring (SPM) is getting ready for commissioning by the end of the current financial year by Indian Oil Corporation. This will add a 15-million- tonne capacity to handle crude oil. Paradip Port has commenced work on deepening the channel at a cost of Rs 253 crore. On completion of dredging, the port will have a depth of 18.7 m and 17.1 m in the approach and entrance channels, respectively, and will be in a position to handle CAPE-size vessels (1,25,000 DWT ships). With simultaneous dredging of berth faces, there will be a draft of 14 m in the existing berths and 16 m in respect of BOT berths. All these expansion plans will enable the port to handle 70 million tonne of cargo by 201112 against 42 million tonne being handled at present.

The four-laning of NH-5/A from Chandikhole to Paradip is going to be completed by the end of June, 2008. Paradip Port has contributed Rs 40 crore as equity in the SPV created by the NHAI for the purpose.

The construction of the new Haridaspur-Paradip rail link is in progress, which is likely to be completed by June 2010. Paradip Port has got 10% equity in this JV company.

The Orissa government has signed a concession agreement to develop the Gopalpur and Dhamra ports. Besides, POSCO is setting up ports at Jatadhari and Kirtania. Will these developments adversely impact Paradip Port

Paradip Port does not expect any adverse impact after the commissioning of Dhamra, POSCO and Gopalpur ports.

What steps are you taking to increase the cargo traffic at the port

There has been unprecedented growth of traffic at Paradip Port in the last few years. Paradip Port is constantly working to increase the traffic volume by adding infrastructure and upgrading the existing facilities. One mobile harbour crane with 140 tonne capacity has been installed. Two more such cranes are going to be commissioned by September-October, 2008. This will help reduce the turnround time of vessels. More and more roads inside the port are being concretised to ensure smoother movement of vehicles and cargo.

What kind of infrastructure and facilities does the port require in the near future to remain competitive

The ports capacity will be doubled in the next five-six years to handle additional cargo. The handling equipment will be modernised to increase the throughput.

What is the ports future

Very promising. The present capacity of the port is 56 million tonne a year with 14 berths. The port expects to add six more berths (2 oil jetties, 2 container and clean cargo berths and 2 BOT berths) by 2011-12, which will increase the capacity to 111 million tonne annually.

Your vision for the port

I will like to see the Paradip Port, which started with a meagre cargo of less than one million tonne with a single berth in 1966, to handle 100 million tonne per annum within a decade from now.