Raveendran is an officer belonging
to the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) . He is currently the Chairman of Chennai Port
Trust. Prior to this appointment, he was
serving as the Divisional Railway
Manager (DRM), Khurda Road Division of East Coast Railway. Earlier he was the Chief Freight
Transportation Manager in Southern Railway. He has also worked in various
senior capacities in Southern and South Western Railway and also as Group
General Manager, CONCOR (Container Corporation).
He is a Mechanical
Engineering graduate from College of Engineering, Guindy. After initial stint of four years in BHEL as
Product Engineer, He has joined IRTS based on Civil Services Examination, 1988. He has specialized in Railway operations and
focused on increasing efficiency and asset utilization in Railway freight
operations. He had been awarded by
Hon'ble Railway Minister for meritorious work while he was serving as Head of
Operations in Chennai Division of Southern Railway. He had undergone one year training Germany on
Transport Management in conurbations. He
had further got trained in Antwerp, Hamburg and Bremen Ports apart from short
term training in INSEAD, Singapore and ICLIF, Malaysia.
Question and answer session with Mr P Raveendran, Chairman, Chennai
Port, a gateway port to the East coast of the country. The port has pioneered
container transport among the major ports of the country having set up an
exclusive container terminal in early 1980ís.
During course of the interview MrRaveendran spoke of how the port had
exceeded the traffic target set by the Shipping Ministry for the year 2017-18,
various infrastructure projects which have been set in motion to improve the
connectivity as well as evacuation of containers from the port and the portís proposed
forays into transshipment business which has so far remained the preserve of
Excerpts from the Interview
Work on the Chennai Port- Maduravoyal Elevated Corridor is expected to
resume by the middle of the year after NHAI completes the DPR for the revised
project. The project was put on hold by the Tamil Nadu government for the past
seven years. Completion of the project from Chennai port to Maduravoyal a
distance of around 20 kilometers would help the seamless movement of Containers
from the port to the Chennai Kolkata Highway within half an hour. The project
is expected to be completed by 2021
The Port administration is implementing a slew of projects for speedy
evacuation of containers. They include introduction of feeder services from
Chennai Port to Puducherry and Karaikal ports, making Puducherry a Satellite
port. Services have commenced last month on a trial basis to enable direct
movement of containers from Chennai to these ports and from these ports to
Chennai Port without choking roads around Southern Chennai. Containers
belonging to Industries of central Tamil Nadu will be processed by customs at
Puducherry and Karaikal ports and taken directly to ships waiting at the two
container terminals in Chennai.
A Multi Modal Logistics Park will come up at Jolarpet Railway Station
by next year, where containers from Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Andhra Pradesh
will aggregate and moved to Chennai port through regular container trains.
After completing Customs and other formalities at Jolarpet Logistics Park, the
containers can directly move into the ships waiting at Chennai Port. Imports that
land in Chennai port can be loaded into these freight trains and taken to
Jolarpet Park for customs and other formalities. The road movement of
containers to and fro Chennai Port will be reduced considerably once this
terminal comes into operation.
Aninternationally renowned consultant firm Ernest and Young has been designated
by the Port to prepare the Detailed Project Report within three months. With the commissioning of this facility, Rail
movement of cargo from the port is expected to go up to fifteen Per cent.
Currently the rail movement of cargo from Chennai port is hardly seven per
cent. The port is also planning to expand its Gates to the CONCORís yard at
Tondiapet situated about ten kilometers north of the port premises. Direct
delivery of import cargo can move by rail from the port wharfs to the CONCOR
yard avoiding road movement in congested Chennai roads.
Chennai port is planning in a big way to attract transshipment traffic
from the ports in the east coast as well as Bangladesh. The port is awaiting
certain issues to be sorted out with the Customs. The operations will start
once these issues are sorted out. Chennai Portís two container terminals with
the state of the art technology to handle containers will help to attract transshipment
containers in a big way.
An exclusive coastal berth with one million ton capacity will be
commissioned in two months. Issues facing the coastal shipping industry like
intervention of agencies like immigration and customs will be sorted out by the
time the berth is commissioned by holding consultations with them. There is no
role for the two agencies so long as the ships carry coastal cargo. The coastal
berth at Chennai port is situated at the southern end of the port with an
exclusive road. The Port has also started bunkering taking advantage of the
calm seas at the outer anchorage
Concluding the interview MrRaveendran said the port is fully geared to
meet the challenges of competition from the ports in the vicinity, global
recession affecting the industry as well as the problems in evacuation of
cargo. It is not an easy path but we shall overcome all the hurdles that could
come in our wayhe said in a note of
Q and A
SS: With the financial year 2017-18
coming to a close by the end of this month, can you give me an indication of
the traffic handled at the port especially containers, projections for the next
year and the financial performance?
Mr.PR: Chennai port will be handling two million tons more cargo
during the current financial year ending in March compared to the last
In the container sector the two terminals of the port have handled
1.42 million Teus as on February during the current financial year, about sixty
thousand Teus more than the achievement during the corresponding period last
year. The growth is around 4.3 per cent. The Port will surpass the target set
by the Shipping Ministry for the current financial year.
The Operating Surplus of the port is expected to surpass Rs two
SS: Chennai port has been the pioneer in
handling container traffic among the major ports having started it way back in
1980ís but the traffic has been more or less static or have achieved marginal
improvement. What has been the factors contributing to the development?
Mr.PR: Development of many ports in the vicinity in the last few years and
overlapping of the hinterland of the Chennai Port has resulted in the cargo
getting shared with the neighboring ports like Ennore, Katupalli and
Krishnapatnm. Other factors include lack of dedicated approach roads to Chennai
For a port like Chennai handling around 1.5 million Teus per annum,
only one access point which is shared with public traffic is grossly
inadequate. Apart from this, the global slow- down has also resulted in
stagnation of Container volumes, Even with these difficulties, Chennai port was
able to attain a growth of four per cent is a great achievement.
SS: With the evacuation problem witnessed by the Port two years ago having
been addressed by the Port administration, what are the other issues holding up
the improvement in Container traffic?
Mr.PR: The evacuation problem could
be addressed within the Port. Though the Port has improved the roads inside the
Port, access to the Port from outside is still an issue. Alternate connectivity
projects like Elevated Corridor proposal, ear marking of additional lands for
cargo traffic, strict facilitation measures by the state government to speed up
the Port bound vehicular traffic may help in addressing the issue.
The Detailed project report for the Chennai port-MadhuravoyalElevated Corridor
is about to be completed and work is expected to commence by the Middle of the
year. The corridor will be completed by 2021.
SS: Manufacturing Industries of the country are located in Northern and Central
parts of the country and they find it convenient to use the West coast ports of
Gujarat and JNPT. These ports are
operating more than their capacity while the East coast ports have been unable
to utilize their capacity. How do you remove the imbalance in traffic between
the ports in the Coasts?
Mr.PR: As for Chennai Port is concerned, the planned development of
industries along the Chennai Bengaluru Industrial corridor(CBIC) and Chennai
Vizag corridor(CVIC) will result in industrial growth along these corridors.
These regions being in the hinterland of Chennai port which will help the port
to meet the growing requirements of the industries without additional
expenditure to capacity addition in near future and will increase the capacity
The Shipping Ministry under Sagar Mala program is planning for overall
development of the entire coastal region and these initiatives are expected
to increase the capacity utilization of
SS: Some steamer agents say the railway infrastructure between Central
India and East coast ports need to be strengthened, They said the railway infra
between North and Central Indian manufacturing centers with the west coast
ports are strong and the same needs to be developed from Central India to East
coast ports. Being a senior official of the railway cadre and having worked in
the Odisha region, your take on it.
Mr.PR: Chennai, Cochin,Tuticorin,Ennore
and Krishnapatnam ports have excellent rail connectivity and nothing is found
wanting in this aspect. There is not much of congestion in the railway lines
from Central India to East coast ports. There are however, some issues relating
to Paradip port though the port at present has no container volume. There is
capacity to run more freight trains in this sector.
SS: Goods coming from far Eastern countries and bound for south Indian
cities like Hyderabad are handled at JNPT in preference to East coast ports
because of the superior railway infrastructure. The Toor dhal imported from
Myanmar and meant to be dispatched to Nagpur based mills for polishing prefer
west coast ports because of better railway infrastructure in the area. How do
you overcome these obstacles so that the capacity in East coast ports could be
Mr.PR: There is no problem in rail infrastructure for movement of goods
from Chennai Port to Nagpur. If the shipper transporting toor dhal from Myanmar
to Nagpur had preferred to have the goods handled at JNPT it may be due to
availability of shipping lines or other logistics issues. We will however have
the issue examined.
The East Coast will soon have a third railway line from Chennai to
Kolkata dedicated for freight traffic. The proposal is at an advanced stage. In
fact work has already commenced in some sectors near Odisha.
SS: Should the Industrial Corridors planned between Visakhapatnam and
Chennai and Chennai and Bengaluru should have Dedicated Railway Corridors as
well so that connectivity to East Coast ports could improve?
Mr.PR: The NPP under Sagar Mala envisages three coastal economic zones in
Visakhapatnam Chennai Industrial corridor two in Andhra Pradesh and one in
Tamil Nadu. The potential industries include Petro Chemicals, Electronics, Steel,
Ship Building, Cement, Apparel and Food Processing.
The proposed Chennai-Visakhapatnam corridor and Chennai-Bengaluru Corridor
have easy access to the existing rail network. The capacities of these rail
networks will be sufficient to meet the requirements of the trade in the near
future. Since road transport is
economical compared to rail up to one thousand kilometers from the relevant
ports in the East coast, road is preferred to rail.
SS: Chennai port being situated in the heart of the metropolitan city is
definitely at a disadvantage over the new private ports which have come up in
the vicinity. Private ports have congestion free access as well as abundant
land bank near the port premises. How do you address the problem of movement of
goods through congested city roads and inadequate land within the port premises
for further expansion?
Mr.PR: Dedicated roads to the Ports are the ultimate solution. Increasing
the Modal shift from Road to Rail is another solution which can be easily
implemented without additional cost because of the excellent rail connectivity
available with Chennai Port. The proposed Elevated Road Corridor project will
ensure additional connectivity to Chennai Port.
To ease the congestion inside the Port, the administration has already
taken several initiatives to widen the internal roads.
SS: When will the work on the Elevated Corridor between the Chennai Port
and Maduravoyal start? The port has to
wait for another three years for the impact of the corridor to be felt on the
swift movement of goods. What are the short term measures the administration
has on mid to relieve the congestion in the port further?
Mr.PR: The DPR for the revised alignment and proposal for Elevated road to
Maduravoyal is expected to be submitted to National Highways Authority of India
by the end of next month.
Based on the revenue model and the mode of implementation recommended
in the DPR, action will be taken by the NHAI in conjunction with Chennai Port
Trust and Tamil Nadu Government to recommence the project..
Pending the commissioning of the Elevated road in about three years
from commencement, Chennai port has planned to utilize the improved evacuation
through EMRIP (Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Program) a six lane road linking
Chennai port with Ennore along the Chennaiís northern coast. In addition, the
port is in consultation with the state government plans to increase the flow of
traffic through Gate number Ten from the present night time (11 Pm to 5 am) to
at least a portion of the day if not 24X7.
It is also proposed to increase the rail share of the cargo by Commissioning
the new full Rake length common railway yard at the Southern end of the port.
It is also proposed to utilize the services of CONCOR for this purpose.
SS: The Port has plans to expand the gates to CONCOR Yard at Tondiarpet
for handling Direct Port Delivery of imports. Has the shuttle service started
operating from the Chennai port to the CONCOR Yard? What has been response of the trade to this
Mr.PR: The procedure for operationalizing CONCOR Yard at Tondiarpet, as an
extended facility of Chennai Port is being examined by the Customs Department.
Once the procedure is approved, CONCOR will start scheduled services between
Chennai Port and Tondiarpet Yard regularly. Since this service will ensure
assured connectivity to Chennai port, the trade is positive about the
SS: The status of the Project for using Puducherry post as a Satellite Port
of Chennai for handling containers and the facility at Jolarpet railway station
for aggregation of containers from Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Andhra Pradesh.
When will the DPR for the project be completed?
Mr.PR: Trial shipping services between Chennai and Puducherry port-Karaikal
segment has started on February 23 rd. The vessel, on its second voyage sailed
from Chennai port with 23 empty containers on March 8th and went to
Karaikal port to pick up some export cargo.
The regular services to Puducherry port will be resumed after
completion of some pending dredging work at Puducherry Port. The consultancy
work for the Detailed Project Report to develop a Multi Modal Logistics Park at
Jolarpet was awareded to Ernest and Young. The work is likely to be completed
in June this year.
SS: Some Mainline shipping lines have deserted Chennai port and moved to
nearby ports like Katupalli in recent
months because of issues of evacuation. Can you outline the steps taken by the
Port administration to bring them back to Chennai Port ?
Mr.PR: No Mainline services have skipped Chennai port. What these lines
have done is to make an additional halt in the nearby port to pick up
SS: When will work on coastal berth in Chennai port be completed? Will the
administration rope the services of coastal shipping lines to make Chennai as a
base for their operations? Immigration and customs seems to be a major
hindrance for operation of coastal services. How do you plan to overcome these
Mr.PR: The exclusive Coastal Berth
at Chennai port is expected to be completed in June this year. Once the
facility is ready, any shipping Company will be welcome to handle their coastal
vessels from here. As far as issues concerning immigration is concerned,
Chennai port will discuss with Immigration authorities to sort out the genuine
issues faced by the trade,
SS: Has the Port got any plans for expansion of services like bunkering in
the Outer Anchorage? Cochin Port has made a start in this activity. Will
Chennai port follow suit considering ports like Singapore earn a fortune from
Mr.PR: The procedure for availing bunker at the anchorage is cumbersome.
The issue was taken up with the customs department to have a single procedure
and the customs have announced a new procedure to that effect. The customs
permission for Outer Anchorage (OPL) bunker supply to vessels hasexpanded the
scope to cover vessels passing along the Chennai coast and also calling at
Kamarajar port Ennore, Katupalli and Krishnapatnam ports.
The GST has also been reduced on bunkers to five per cent from
eighteen per cent. With the above measure, it is expected that the bunker
volumes from Chennai Port will increase steadily. Further IOCL being the Principal
Supplier at Chennai port and also Singapore ports, there is tremendous scope
SS: Has the port taken a decision to take a plunge into transshipment
Mr.PR: The prospects of transhipment business from Chennai port has been
studied in depth. The port has finalized plans to attract transshipment
business in a big way. Certain issues connected with transshipment need to besorted
out with the Customs. We hope early resolution of these issues so that the new
venture could be launched.
Both the container terminals operating at Chennai port have the state
of the art facility which could give a boost to the transshipment traffic from
SS: Future of Chennai Port, in the light of intense competition from the
ports in the neighborhood.
Mr.PR: Chennai Port has a very
bright future even with competition from neighboring Ports. The main (and
probably only) issue Chennai Port is facing is connectivity. Once the Elevated
Corridor Project is completed, may be in 2 to three yearsí time, this will be
addressed. In fact, Chennai Port, with lowest cost of
handling among the Ports of this region, will be able to serve the trade in a