To improve connectivity to the hinterland, New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) has stressed the need to develop a tunnel on Shiradi ghat stretch between Mangaluru and Bengaluru highway.
Speaking at the ‘Karnataka Ports, Shipping and Logistics Summit’, jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations and India Sea Trade in Mangaluru, AV Ramana, Chairman, NMPT, said that some portion of the hinterland cargo from Karnataka is moving to other ports such as Krishnapatnam, Chennai and Kochi because of the time factor and not because of cost factor.
Referring to the proposal to convert the stretch of the national highway between Bantwal in Dakshina Kannada to Maranahalli in Hassan district into four-lane one, he said there is a need to make a 23-km-long tunnel on the Shiradi ghat stretch on that route.
What is being planned now is to make the two-lane highway into a four-lane highway. But still the vehicles will have to negotiate the ghat. The other solution is to make a 23-km-long tunnel that will reduce the fuel consumption of driving on to the ghats and also bring down the time taken for travel.
Once this happens, NMPT will become as competitive as any other port. He said that around 2.45 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers are going from Karnataka through Krishnapatnam, Chennai and Kochi. The development of a 23-km-long tunnel on the Shiradi ghat stretch will help bring all these cargo through NMPT as it will reduce both time and cost to the export-import sector, he said.
Stressing the need to improve the coastal cargo from NMPT, Ramana said the port now handles around 7-8 million tonnes (mt) of coastal cargo. “This year we have a target to reach 10 mt,” he said.
NMPT is allowing the coastal vessels to berth on priority in the port, and is giving a discount of 40 per cent on all the coastal cargo vessels. This going to be a big boost to the coastal cargo and local economy, he said.
On the traffic handling plans for the current financial year, he said the port handled 42.5 mt in 2018-19. Because of extended monsoon and three cyclones from April to November there was a hit on the movement of fertilizers, salt and chemicals at the port. “In spite of this, we want to even out the figures between December and March. This year we will be handling 43.5 mt to 44 mt keeping the turnaround time at 36 hours,” he said.