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Nod to port, push to steel project
Centre clears Dhamra proposal

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 18: The Centre has accorded environmental clearance to the expansion project of the second phase of Dhamra port in Bhadrak district giving another boost to the state’s industrialisation.

The environmental clearance, accorded by the Union ministry of environment and forests, has coincided with its recent clearance to Posco’s eight-million-tonne steel project in Paradip.

Chief executive officer of Dhamra Port Company Limited Santosh Kumar Mohapatra said: “We have received the clearance last week. Large-scale expansion of the port will be undertaken now.”

Mohapatra said once the expansion took place, all sorts of cargo would be able to come to the port. “The company has already invested around Rs 3,600 crore. We have a plan to invest a total amount of Rs 7,000 crore,” he said.

In the second phase of its expansion, Dhamra port has decided to go for doubling of the rail link from the port to Bhadrak town. Several bridges would also be constructed.

Around 11 cargo berths will be set up under the plan and the port will handle an annual cargo load of 100 metric tonnes following the expansion.

In a related development, Dhamra port authorities have asked the state government to expedite the land acquisition process to speed up the project. Around 800 acres will be required for the project’s expansion.

Reports suggest that Larsen & Toubro and Tata Steel, the 50:50 stakeholders in the joint venture company, are likely to sell part of the shares to Ahmedabad-based Adani Group. While L&T is said to be keen on selling all its shares to Adani, Tata Steel is yet to take a call on the issue. The port will be helpful to the Tatas for their Kalinga Nagar plant.

“This is a decision taken at the promoters’ level. I can’t comment on this,” Mohapatra said.

Inaugurated on December 18, 2011, by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Dhamra port was supposed to herald a big change in the state’s economy by catering to the vast mineral belt of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bengal.

Sources said the problems of Dhamra port stemmed from the drastic fall in the state’s mining activity with more than 200 mines out of operation at the moment. Since ore exports constitute the backbone of port operations in the state, Dhamra is struggling to become a profitable port, says a source.