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Japan bank tapped for Sagar port investment

Calcutta, May 9: Calcutta Port Trust, one of the oldest ports in the country, will initially invest Rs 2,500 crore to set up another port at Sagar. With the implementation of this project, CPT will become the largest port service provider in the country.

CPT chairman A. K. Chanda said the board of trustees has taken a decision on it and a detailed proposal on funding has been sent to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

“We are optimistic that JBIC will fund us and by March next, work should start,” Chanda said.

The projected traffic at the new port has been pegged at 64 million tonnes per annum, which is almost double the traffic handled by the Trust’s two existing facilities at Calcutta and Haldia.

The new port at Sagar will also help the Calcutta dock system financially as it will supplement the Sagar port.

“Moreover, problems like lack of draft, a major hurdle for both the riverine ports of CPT, is not there in the proposed port at Sagar. The turnaround time for the ships will also be much quicker,” Chanda said.

The expected loan from JBIC will attract an interest of as low as one per cent on a tenure of 40 years.

Chanda pointed out that there would be a moratorium for the first 10 years and it is only in the eleventh year that the repayment will begin.

The Port Trust has achieved the highest-ever net surplus at Rs 191.3 crore in the year ended March 31, 2003, which is 59.8 per cent higher than the previous year’s surplus of Rs 120.3 crore.

CPT has also recorded an all-time high handling of traffic at 35.75 million tonnes during the year with a growth rate of 17.60 per cent while the national average growth stood at 8.92 per cent.

Chanda said the growth in bulk cargo traffic has helped CPT to achieve such a performance. The country’s third largest port facility has set a target of 41 million tonnes of traffic this fiscal.

Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), a major contributor to CPT’s total earnings, is facing a major threat with Indian Oil Corporation insisting on bringing crude through a pipeline rather than through the port.

“IOC crude comprises about one-third of our total cargo handling at Haldia and if that stops, we will be in for serious trouble,” a senior HDC official admits.

In order to keep IOC in good humour, the port authority has decided to reduce the port charges substantially.

Calcutta Port Trust is set to enter into a long-term contract with Gail, which will route its petrochemicals exports through Haldia. The gas major plans to export 400 boxes of polymer every month which will give the port an additional earning of around Rs 3 crore every year.

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