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Friday, Aug 05, 2005
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VISAKHAPATNAM: Development of the State's first minor port with international standards at Gangavaram will take some more time due to the stiff opposition to the ban on fishing at the project site and delay in financial closure by the promoters.
There is also delay on the part of land acquisition for want of proper rehabilitation policy for the affected persons. The Left parties have announced their strong opposition to the ban on fishing imposed by the district administration at Gangavaram and Dibbapalem villages. The local fisherfolk have also threatened to take recourse to agitational path over the denial of their right to fishing.
The Government awarded the project for development to D.V. Raju and consortium about three years ago on BOT (build, operate and transfer) basis. By 2006-07, the promoters are supposed to commission one berth or two. "But the conditions seem to be not favourable for the consortium,'' an official of Visakhapatnam Port Trust said.
The promoters, who are bound to face a tough challenge from their `big brother' VPT in its neighbourhood, are yet to firm up finances for the project involving a huge investment. Though initially the project cost was estimated at Rs.1,800 crores, it might have escalated to Rs. 2,500 crores by now due to increase in construction and labour costs.
VPT continued to occupy for the country's premier port position during 2004-05 for the fifth time in a row by handling 50 million tonnes. It poses further threat by setting an ambitious throughput target of 55 million tonnes during current fiscal by charging highly competitive handling rates.
Though the land belonging to Visakhapatnam Steel Plant was transferred by the State to the Gangavaram Port promoters, there are bottlenecks in acquiring land from the locals.
Apart from the industries located in the hinterland in addition to secondary hinterland---Orissa, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh ---will stand benefited once the project is completed.
A satellite port at Gangavaram was mooted mainly to decongest traffic at VPT, which has already attained saturation with 150 per cent plus capacity utilisation. It was thought that Gangavaram would benefit from `disturbed cargo' from VPT and help set up an efficient twin port system in the region.
Whatever be the reasons for the delay, a satellite port will have assured cargo due to its proximity to high and captive user groups like VSP and NTPC-Simhadri Super Thermal Power Station.
Dry bulk, break bulk and container cargoes will also be possible due to draft and proximity advantage, yielding high savings to the trade. Plans for development of a Special Economic Zone at Achutapuram and Coasta Corridor for promotion of industries between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada will also get a boost if the port materialises.
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