Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), the second largest among all Indian major ports, has undertaken a Rs 969 crore expansion plan to hike the capacity of existing facilities and set up new multi-purpose cargo handling jetties and berths.
KoPT chairman A.K. Chanda said that in an effort to surpass Visakhapatnam as the leading port in India, KoPT has drawn up extensive plans and the Rs 969 crore as part of the 11th plan expenditure is a step in that direction. To strengthen the Kolkata Dock System, KoPT will construct three cargo-handling jetties at Diamond Harbour for an investment of Rs 360 crore, KoPT will also develop the infrastructure in and around the dock complex. In the Haldia Dock Complex, it plans to construct two riverine jetties, lay-up berths and a second lock gate, among others.
Being the only riverine major port in India, KoPT has been handicapped by the draft problem compared to other ports in the country. Along the 232 km long navigational channel of the port, the draft varies from 7 metres at Kolkata Dock System to an average of 8.5 metres at Haldia Dock Complex, which increases to about 50 metres moving south near the Sagar islands. KoPT is currently exploring deep drafted areas southwards at Diamond Harbour, Sagar and Sandheads with the changing demands of the shipping trade.
According to Chanda, consulting engineering services (CES) has already done a feasibility study for the deep draft port and a clearance is awaited from the shipping ministry. KoPT will require 85 acres to begin construction of three jetties at Haldia initially, for which the modalities are currently being worked on.
“We have an elaborate plan to carry out modernisation at Haldia following the PPP (public private partnership) model where the private party will do bulk of the investment. Two new berths in Haldia will augment capacity by 3-4 mt and we have to equip the existing berths with better facilities,” Chanda said.
KoPT has set a target of handling 60 mt traffic during 2007-08, up from 55.05 mt in 2006-07. KoPT has also set a 10 per cent revenue growth during the year in excess of Rs 1,400 crore during 2007-08. In 2006-07, Kolkata Dock System handled an all-time record traffic of 12.596 mt in 2006-07. In terms of container traffic, KoPT handled 3,49,072 TEUs in 2006-07 as against 3,13,800 TEUs in previous year, recording 11.24 per cent growth.
In 2006-07, Kolkata Port handled the highest number of ships among all major ports with 3,222 ships calling at for cargo operation.