Haldia: It all started on August 13, 1968, with the loading of about 6,500 tonnes of motor spirit on the MT Ampuria by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd at an oil jetty here in East Midnapore. Fifty years later, the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) under Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) is eyeing a figure of 43-45 million tonnes for the 2018-19 fiscal. On Monday, while HDC celebrated 50 years of cargo handling at Haldia, KoPT chairman Vinit Kumar spoke on future plans to augment capacity and take cargo handling figures to nearly 60 million tonnes in the next 2-3 years.
“We had a study conducted and it shows that HDC’s capacity is 65 million tonnes. The maximum utilisation level for a port is 80-85% and the maximum that we can handle under present circumstances is 55 million tonnes. To augment capacity, we are going in for mechanisation of Berth 3. This berth used to handle iron ore earlier. We are now introducing silo-loading at this berth. It is also known as rapid wagon loading system and the cost will be Rs 311 crore. The capacity of the berth will increase and there would be reduction in turnaround time. This berth will handle coal and doubling of railway tracks by the end of next year will help in quicker dispersal," Kumar said.
HDC is also planning to start operations at its Outer Terminal 2 soon. This is augment capacity by 2.5 million tonnes. Environmental clearance for this project is at its last stage. A Letter of Intent has already been issued for a liquid jetty at Shalukkhali. This facility will have a capacity of four million tonne.
“These additional facilities will hopefully take us to 60 million tonnes in the next 2-2.5 years. We believe that there is sufficient cargo to be handled. There is a 20-25% growth in LPG and oil companies are looking forward to more loading arms. LNG and POL are also in demand. There are also plans to send cargo to Bangladesh in smaller vessels after bringing it in bulk to Haldia. Our growth will take place due to the increased demand for coal. Tata and SAIL are the primary customers. There is also demand for clinker for cement plants,” Kumar added.
HDC can handle nearly 2,000 ships annually but falls short by 200-300, primarily due to lockgate constraints. Lockgate operations for every ship takes 45 minutes to an hour and in this way, only 10 ships can enter or leave the port. IIT Madras has now suggested that the lockgate be done away with trials will be conducted soon.
“If we are successful, 16 ships will be entering or leaving the port daily. Many tests and trials will be required though. We have also engaged the Port of Antwerp Authority to study the matter and give a second opinion. Antwerp is one of the few ports in the world which still has a lockgate. A portion of the port at Antwerp doesn't use the lockgate though. We have also floated a tender for an LNG storage unit that should be ready in two years. Nearly 1,300 acres have also been identified in Haldia where new industry and residential complexes can be set up,” the chairman said.
Haldia residents also gained during the day with Kumar handing over possession certificate of the local bus-stand to Haldia Municipality chairman Shyamal Adak. The bus-stand will now be turned into a modern facility. Five schools from the town also received grants of Rs 50,000 each from KoPT to purchase books and improve infrastructure.
Photo caption: KoPT chairman Vinit Kumar (extreme right) and MP Dibyendu Adhikari cut a cake designed as the MT Ampuria at Haldia on Monday even as Haldia Municipality chairman Shyamal Adak looks on.
Though the Haldia Dock Complex came into being only in 1977, liquid cargo was handled from the oil jetty since 1968. The oil jetty was then operated by the Kolkata Dock System.