State-owned Paradip Port Trust, which has been focusing on promoting competition and bringing down costs to users, is looking at 17 percent growth in cargo handling -- touching 120 million tonnes (mt) in 2018-19, according to a top official.
Betting big on the ongoing capacity-building projects and upcoming industrial parks along with multi-modal logistics parks, which are expected to boost cargo flow, the leading dry-bulk handing port in the country remains bullish on achieving significant growth in its revenue, the official said.
"Our goal for the current fiscal is to become the number one port in the country overtaking Kandla Port (located on the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat). On the basis of current trends in cargo handling, we are looking at a 16-17 per cent growth in the current fiscal. Cargo handling should reach around 118-120 mt in 2018-19," Paradip Port Trust Chairman Rinkesh Roy told IANS.
The port, on the eastern coast, has taken "positive strides" in terms of growth in cargo handling in the last three-four years and it had handled 102 mt of cargo in the last fiscal, achieving a growth of about 15 percent.
"Our main focus has been on getting higher volume of cargo and our topline has improved significantly. We clocked close to Rs 1,500 crore of revenue in 2017-18 with all income put together. If we are able to touch 118 mt cargo handling, the topline would be to the tune of Rs 1,750-Rs 1,800 crore," he said.
Roy said the port rates have not been revised from 2012-13 onwards and would continue to be the same till 2019-20. While other ports had hiked their rates, Paradip Port has kept its rates steady.
"We introduced a fair degree of competition. There were anti-competition activities which we were able to sort out.
"This is one of the few ports where the cost to the customers came down by 30-40 per cent from 2012-13 to 2017-18. For example, the companies which have been importing coal had incurred a cost of around Rs 600-650 per tonne in 2012-13 and that has come down to Rs 250-280 a tonne. The cost of our services came down through better efficiencies," Roy said.
The port, according to its chief, remains focused on its laid-down strategy because its competition is "not only limited to Dhamra and Gopalpur port (in Odisha) but also Gangavaram Port" located in Andhra Pradesh.
"If any competitor offers cheap prices and gets large capesize vessels, there is every possibility of cargo diversion to the most competitive ports," Roy said.
The port has taken up a host of projects to increase its capacity from the existing 277 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 325 mtpa by 2025.
The projects, with a total investment of around Rs 4,000 crore, include development of multi-purpose berths to handle clean cargo, deep draught coal berth for handling imported coal with 10 mtpa capacity and also an iron ore berth. Other projects are mechanisation of the EQ (East Quay) 1,2,3 berths and development of an 0.75 mtpa capacity LPG terminal at the South Oil jetty.
"All are ongoing projects. One part of the container-cum-clean-cargo terminal is already ready and we should be getting the first ship by end of this month. This facility will boost cargo handling by another 3-4 million tonnes," Roy said.
The port has also made progress in setting up a multi-modal logistic park (MMLP) with the Container Corporation of India (Concor), a public sector unit under the Ministry of Railways, and also an industrial park covering about 600 acres of land.
"We have plans to set up the MMLP with Concor and we have given 100 acres of land to them. Concor will be floating a tender shortly and the work should start from June for setting up the park, Roy said. The port has also allotted 277 acres of land to industries, out of 600 acres, for the industrial park."A large chunk of land was allotted to a consortium for setting up a pellet plant of four mtpa capacity and this would help cargo flow to the port. We have got expression of interests for a food park and for which, we are in process to take permission from the Centre to increase the lease period. We are also planning to set up a wood park," Roy added.