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Recession cloud over Paradip coal project

Paradip, Nov. 16: Global recession has cast its shadow over the Paradip Port Trust’s Rs 479-crore deep draught all-weather coal berth.

The project, which aims to enhance cargo-handling capacity of Odisha’s lone major port, has failed to take off despite the go-ahead given by the ministry of environment and forests.

“There has been a slump in cargo handling in the port. This is not the right time to launch the project. We are waiting for the situation to improve,” said a port trust official.

On January 4, 2011, the port trust received clearance from the environment and Coastal Regulation Zone. In July, the Centre accorded forest clearance to it.

With the accordance of forest clearance, work for the all-weather coal berth was expected to resume soon. However, there has been little activity on the work front.

“The all-weather deep coal berth project had been awarded to Essar Paradip terminal on build operate and transfer basis on a 30-year concession. The port trust had signed the concession agreement with Essar on November 2009. As the Centre has issued forest clearance, work is expected to commence shortly. The date of completion is June 2014,” executive engineer (design) of the port trust R.D. Mahapatra said.

As desired by the Centre, land for compensatory afforestation programme has been identified and the scheme is being launched, said an official.

“Several port infrastructure development projects have been lined up. The deepening of existing entrance and approach channel to handle large panamax-size vessels, development of deep draught iron ore berth of 10MTPA capacity, development of multipurpose berth to handle clean cargo, including containers, are some of the pending projects of the port. Apart from the harbour development projects, the rest have got stuck as final clearance from the Centre is awaited. Besides, the port trust has 10 per cent equity share in the Paradip-Haridaspur rail link project. It has also funded Paradip-Cuttack state highway-17 widening project. The work for both the rail line and state highway is in full swing,” said port trust chairman S. Ananth Kumar Bose.

According to the agreement, the port trust would provide all supporting facilities such as dredging of channel and berth, railway connectivity and back-up area. The completion of the coal berth project would lead to mechanisation of coal imports. The mechanised berth would be 370-metre long. It would provide advanced port facilities.