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Kolkata Port Trust Lines up Projects Amounting to Rs 1,256 Crore

Posted on May 2, 2016

Kolkata Port Trust is embarking on seven key projects amounting to Rs 1,256 crore in the current financial year to up its tonnage handling capacity and improve cargo handling capabilities. Of the proposed investment, Rs 370 crore will come from internal accruals while the port will opt for public-private partnerships (PPP) for the remaining Rs 886 crore.

Slated for completion in a maximum two-year timeframe, it is setting up two outer riverine terminals with a consolidated capacity of 9.3 MMTPA (million metric tonnes per annum) which will draw in a total capital expenditure of Rs 640 crore while Rs 250 crore will be pumped in developing 5 MMTPA mooring facilities at Sandheads in West Bengal for transhipment of liquid cargo. Another Rs 200 crore will be invested for setting up small-scale LNG storage and distribution terminal among other projects.

“The operations for the Indo-Bangladesh trade is commencing this month and to begin with, we think we’ll be handling 40,000-50,000 tonnes of additional cargo, which is expected to go up as the trade progresses,” Chairman of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), M T Krishna Babu said.

This trade channel, if utilised to the fullest potential can result in KoPT handling 0.15-0.2 million tonne (mt) of additional of cargo in a year.

Additionally, this year onwards, it will also start handling 500 cars per month in its ports which will be transported from the country’s southern ports.

“SAIL has also committed us of 2.2 mt of additional cargo if we are able to reduce handling charges, we are working on it”, he said.

While the shipping ministry had set a target of 15.18 mt of cargo handling for the port last year, it handled 16.68 mt of the same. During 2016-17, with a target of 16.34 mt, KoPT officials are optimistic of handling 10 per cent cargo more than the previous year.

Although the port’s operating income increased to Rs 1,577 crore during 2015-16 as against Rs 1,423 crore in the year-ago period while operating surplus increased to Rs 604 crore — up by 28.6 per cent as compared to 2014-15, KoPT suffered a net loss.

Its loss during the previous financial year mounted to Rs 148 crore from the earlier Rs 68 crore (2014-15) as it allotted Rs 333 crore in the pension fund.

Carrying a liability of 30,000 pensioners, the Trust had made a conscious decision to strengthen the pension fund rather than focus on profit.

Babu, however, is worried about the government reducing the dredging subsidy, which will hurt the financial position of older major ports.

“Unless the dredging subsidy is given, Kolkata and Haldia ports will not survive”, he emphasised.

KoPT’s dredging expenses in the last financial year stood at Rs 453 crore — down by over six per cent as compared to Rs 484 crore spent during 2014-15.

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