Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 17:
In what constitutes a major respite for the Dhamra Port Company Ltd (DPCL), the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has given environmental clearance to its long delayed second phase expansion at an investment of Rs 10,000 crore.
While the company has decided to invest the money over the next five years, the port will be setting up 11 cargo berths under the plan that would result in more than a three-fold rise in capacity. It will handle 100 metric tonne per annum (mtpa) after the expansion of capacity.
Presently, the port has two berths with a handling capacity of 25 mtpa, which is manly handling bulk cargo, including iron ore, limestone and coal.
“We got the clearance from the MoEF in the first week of Januray. We can now expedite work on the expansion. We have already asked the state government for land acquisition and it has assured us to speed up the process,” said a senior official of DPCL.
The official informed that the company has invested Rs 3969 crore so far in the first phase and handled cargo of around 21.4 million tonne while 250 vessels, including capsize vessels, have been received at the port located at Dhamra in Bhadrak district.
“We have a host of proposals including doubling of the rail link, four-laning of the road from Dhamra to Bhadrak and construction of several bridges in the second phase expansion,” said the official adding that around 800 acres will be required for the expansion of the port project.
It is to be noted that the port being developed as a 50:50 joint venture between Tata Steel and L&T had faced guidelines hurdles of the state government for expansion of the project. The government had maintained that it will allot land only after preparing a thumb rule on land requirement for non-major ports in the state.
Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), the engineering and consultancy arm of Indian Railways which had been engaged to prepare the thumb rule, suggested allotment of 50 acres of land for every million tonne of cargo handling capacity proposed by the developer.
Meanwhile, the government had asked the port director to examine the cases of minor ports, including Astaranga, Subarnarekha, Gopalpur and the expansion proposal of Dhamara port in the light of the guidelines suggested by RITES.
DPCL is also in talks with the Adani Goup to sale its stake in the port as it found it economically unviable to run the project.
Last year, the Gautam Adani-promoted APSEZ agreed to buy the port. Once it comes through, the deal, pegged at Rs 5,000 crore by industry analysts, would be the largest deal in the Indian port sector. This deal will boost APSEZ’s presence on the east coast.