May 18, 2008

East coast abuzz with activity

16 May 2008
HYDERABAD: The East coast is buzzing with activity now. With the state government focusing on ports as another major infrastructure that can be developed jointly with private players, five ports are in the process of becoming major business hubs.

The five ports - Krishnapatnam, Gangavaram, Vodarevu, Machilipatnam and Nizampatnam - are expected to provide an unprecedented logistic support to the industrial sector in the state, particularly in locations like Nellore that are now bursting with activity.

"More ports need to come up. The concept of Way Ports that are very close to each other make transportation of goods easy for the entire country," Capt P V K Mohan, chairman of the high-powered committee on ports, told TOI. According to him, once the ports get ready, transportation of heavy goods like steel and cement would shift to sea, leaving national highways for lighter products like FMCG goods and electronics.

Two of the five ports - Gangavaram and Krishnapatnam - are at an advanced stage of construction and would be ready for operations shortly. While a consortium led by former VisualSoft promoter D V S Raju is developing theGangavaram port with an outlay of Rs 3,500 crore, infrastructure major Navayuga group is developing the Krishnapatnam port. Incidentally, like the now operational GMR-led Hyderabad international airport, the two ports too were conceived during the TDP regime. "Along with these two projects, the other three too are progressing as per schedule. Smaller ports on the East coast like Rawa, Bheemunipatnam, Kalingapatnam and Bhavanapadu would add to the series of ports we are planning," a senior official in the government said.

A consortium led by Maytas Infra has been awarded the Machilipatnam port project while another consortium with N Prasad, former chief of pharma major Matrix, has taken up works at Nizampatnam and Vodarevu. "These are much bigger projects than an international airport. However, since they cater to the industry and not to a common man, they do not have the kind of glamour an airport has," the official explained.

The industry, meanwhile, is waiting for the ports to become operational to cut down on the cost of raw material transportation. For instance, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) alone is expected to save about Rs 150 crore on transportation of raw material once the Gangavarm Port becomes operational. In fact, a dedicated conveyor belt is being laid from the port to the VSP site for transporting raw material.

"Every port has something interesting to offer. Several units that depend on Chennai port have problems in plying lorries through the villages en route since the villagers tend to resist and stop the vehicles. Krishnapatnam port will not have that problem," the official said.

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