Braving challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), which was set up way back in 1933, has retained the third position among 12 major ports. For the financial year 2020-21, VPT handled 69.84 million tonnes, 3 million tones shortfall in comparison to 2019-20 throughput. This could be achieved despite the pandemic, severe disruptions as well as stiff competition from neighbouring private ports and a decrease in volumes of coal, POL, container and primary cargo.
Chairman of the VPT K Rama Mohana Rao said that VPT, which relegated JNPT to the fourth slot, was also successful for a repeat performance during FY 2020-21. Due to shortfall in handling coking coal and steam coal has been compensated with a substantial increase in exports of iron ore, pellets and steel to China.
The improvement of efficiency parameters like dwell time of ships, faster evacuation of cargo, competitive handling of charges and end-to-end solutions offers by the port yielded good results for VPT in spite of the impact of lockdown and later slowdown in industrial production.
Stating further Mr. Rao said that the export of iron ore to China helped in meeting the target as there was a delay in reviving the industrial production in that country after recovery from the pandemic. Railway traffic also witnessed significant growth during the fiscal.
Exuding confidence in improving its cargo handling to the tune of 80 million tonnes in the near future, Mr. Rao said he is happy that their efforts in augmentation of infrastructure, commissioning of OR3, West Quay 6, additional storage facilities and support from the port community and other stakeholders helped in retaining the third rank among the premier ports. Incidentally, coal exports declined heavily due to a focus on domestic production and scaling down of generation by thermal power plants due to high demand for solar power over cost advantage.
VPT has taken concerted efforts in the direction of expansion and mechanization of existing infrastructure to meet future demand. For facilitating faster cargo evacuation besides reducing congestion at Convent Junction, a grade separator (Flyover) from the H-7 area in VPT connecting the Port Connectivity junction bypassing city traffic is being developed at a cost of Rs. 60 crores. Apart from improving the capacity utilization of OR1 and OR2 berths under phase-I of the project, one Mobile Harbour Crane of 100-tonne capacity is installed at WQ-1. Also, two railway sidings have been developed to meet the demand for iron ore, fertilizer and other cargoes.
With a view to handle more container volumes at M/s. VCTPL to the tune of 5.4 Lakh TEUs from the existing handling capacity of 5 lakh TEUs, the extension of the container terminal is scheduled to be completed by December 2021.
VPT’s preventive measures against Covid-19 Pandemic
All out efforts have been made to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on Exim cargo and coastal cargo duly co-coordinating with stakeholders like Railways, CONCOR, Stevedores, and Shipping agents. Arrangements have been made to facilitate uninterrupted shipping and traffic operations during the lockdown and subsequently.
A covid Care Centre (CCC) with 65 beds was established at Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium on 12th August 2020 for employees and dependents. required infrastructure like ambulance, round-the-clock medical facilities including bedside oxygen, high protein food has been provided. About 210 patients were treated and fully recovered. VPT has contributed Rs 75 lakhs to Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.