The Dhamra Port- located at the north of the mouth of the river Dhamra in Orissa- has been officially inaugurated by the State's Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik two weeks ago. The Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL) is a 50:50 joint venture between heavyweights Larsen and Toubro and Tata Steel; an all weather port located close to the mineral belt of Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal, its promoters say that the available draft of 17.5 metre will enable them to handle Cape Size vessels of up to 180000 DWT with ease.
Besides the Chief Minister, Mr K. Mohandas, Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping; Mr Sanjeeb Kumar Sahoo, Orissa Minister for Commerce and Transport; Mr Prafulla Samal, Orissa Minister for Tourism, Culture and Cooperation ; Mr Santosh Kumar Mohapatra, CEO, and other senior officials of DPCL were present at the function. DPCL hopes that the port- built on the BOOST (Build, Own, Operate, Share and Transfer) basis, will become a major player on the country's eastern seaboard, and the most cost effective one to boot. The port will be handed over to the Orissa government after 30 years.
Dhamra has been under construction for four years, since 2007, and has already serviced around fifty ships since May this year. DPCL has dredged an 18 km long channel to connect the port to the deep sea and a 62 km rail link to connect Dhamra with the Howrah-Chennai line. At the port, DPCL has built two berths of 350 m each, capable of loading 100,000 tonnes of dry bulk cargo daily. Long term, DPCL plans to have thirteen berths, capable of handling everything from containers to liquid and bulk (both dry and breakbulk) cargoes- to the tune of 100 million tonnes annually.
Dhamra Port is looking at other expansion options too, it is learnt. Proposals from Indian Oil Corporation and Petronet LNG for building a dedicated LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal are some of them; the LNG market is seen as a large revenue earner for the country in future. DPCL also wants to augment berth capacity at the port.
“We have contributed two berths. This project has got a lot of potential and we would like to expand this project. Already, there are proposals to build several terminals and we are considering these proposals”, said Y M Deosthalee, Chairman of L&T Finance and DPCL at the inauguration. “This project is a landmark project envisaging an investment of over Rs 3500 crore,” he added. DPCL has already invested heavily in the port- Rs 762.79 crore, Rs 1088.26 crore and Rs 1059.40 crore in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively, and another 60.45 crore till the end of September this financial year.
Shipping secretary K Mohan Das implied that more projects such as Dhamra were sorely needed for the country to prosper.“Indian port capacity is totally inadequate for the economic growth that the country is striving for. Our current port capacity is more than three billion tones at present and it needs to be multiplied three times by 2020. The Dhamra port is an impressive addition to our port capacity growth”, he said.