Bangalore: India’s biggest engineering company, Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T), and the largest steel maker, Tata Steel Ltd, will jointly set up a container handling facility at Dhamra port in Orissa to tap demand for containerized cargo in the eastern part of the country, a top executive said.
L&T and Tata Steel are the developer and operator, respectively, of Dhamra port.
“We have decided to have a container terminal at the port with an initial capacity to handle five lakh standard containers a year,” said Santosh Mohapatra, chief executive officer of Dhamra Port Co. Ltd. “The capacity of the terminal will be scaled up to one million standard containers a year according to demand.”
L&T and Tata Steel are equal partners in Dhamra Port, which will start operating the first phase of the new cargo handling port by June with a capacity to handle 22 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore, coking coal, thermal coal and limestone a year.
The joint venture has invested close to Rs2,000 crore for developing the first phase of the port.
Dhamra Port may look at inducting a specialist strategic partner to operate the container terminal, said Mohapatra. “We are exploring the possibility of having a strategic partner to run the container terminal. However, this is yet to be finalized,” he said.
Mohapatra said the port master plan provides for setting up 13 berths with a capacity to handle 80 mt of cargo a year.
“Out of this, five berths will exclusively cater to container and other types of clean cargo,” he said.
At a depth of 18m, Dhamra port is one of the deepest ports on the country’s eastern coast and is capable of accommodating the biggest of the dry bulk cargo carrying vessels—called super capesize ships—that can carry as much as 180,000 tonnes of cargo.
“We want to take advantage of the deep draft (depth) in the channel to set up container and liquid cargo handling facilities at the port,” Mohapatra said.
Apart from catering to the captive use of Tata Steel, the port will tap the cargo generating states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand for business.