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i-maritime Newsletter

Vizag portís cargo traffic touches 48 m tonnes - 2011-12-08

The Visakhapatnam port handled 47.9 million tonnes of cargo till the end of November during the current financial year as against 43.9 million tonnes during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of four million tonnes, according to sources.

According to the sources, the increase in cargo could be achieved even though in some of the berths development works are going on in the port. The port handled 12.28 tonnes of iron ore during the period against 11.65 million tonnes last year and transhippment cargo of 13.29 million tonnes against 12.48 million tonnes last year.

The Visakhapatnam port has been caught up in controversy in recent months over the proposed move to evict residents in the old town area for expanding its activities. There has been opposition from residents and social activists also that the old heritage structures and buildings in the area (many of them more than a century-old) should not be demolished for the sake of port's expansion activities.

The port Chairman, Mr Ajeya Kallam, has clarified that the port authorities do not seek to demolish the heritage (historical) structures and all care will be taken to preserve them as museums and memorials and the public will have full access to them. “Only those structures which do not have historical, or architectural, value will be demolished and a face-lift will be given to the area with landscaping,” he has said.

The port has prepared a rehabilitation package for the institutions and residents in the area and some of the institutions and more than 100 owners of private buildings have come forward to accept it, according to Mr Kallam. It will be done in a voluntary manner and there will be no compulsion. “The VPT does not have any commercial or vested interest in removing any of the structures or for vacating the old town for its alleged expansion programme. The proposal to resettle the residents of the area should be viewed from a positive angle,” he said.

Mr Kallam said the port was also taking all steps to minimise pollution levels and make life easier for the residents. “The mechanisation works are on and the closed conveyor system to carry coal from the outer harbour to the designated stack yard for mechanical loading into rakes is under fast progress and it will be ready by June/July, 2012. The existing iron ore mechanical system is also planned to be revamped, converting it into a completely closed conveyor system. The clearance is awaited from the Union Cabinet. These two systems will reduce dust pollution, as they will eliminate truck traffic between the outer harbour and inner harbour. A 21-feet compound wall is also being constructed around the new stack yard. On top of it, another 10-feet screen is being erected. Sprinkler systems are being put in place to suppress dust,” he explained.

He said the VPT would take all necessary steps to improve the quality of atmosphere in the neighbourhood.

Source: Hindu Business Line