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Dedicated roads to the Ports are the ultimate solution: Chennai Port Trust Chairman

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 fully utilized?

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?

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?

 Port with a dedicated road (For illustration only)

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?   

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 Chennai’s 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 facility?

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 viability.

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 additional volumes.

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 problems?

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 the service?

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 for growth.

SS: Has the port taken a decision to take a plunge into transshipment business?

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 the port.

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 years’ 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 better way.

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