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Tuesday, May 21, 2002

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JNPT's bulk terminal to make way for boxes

P. Manoj

The bulk terminal was lying unutilised due to a decline in the foodgrains and fertiliser traffic.

NEW DELHI, May 20

JAWAHARLAL Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) will convert one of its idle bulk cargo handling terminals into a container handling facility, the third one to be developed at the port.

"A proposal submitted by JNPT to convert one of its bulk terminals into a container terminal was cleared by the Union Shipping Minister, Mr V.P. Goyal last week," official sources said.

The new container terminal would be developed through private sector participation under the build, operate and transfer (BOT) scheme using the revenue-sharing formula. The bidder quoting the highest percentage of revenue sharing with the port trust would be awarded the contract for developing the terminal, officials said.

Currently, two container terminals are operating at JNPT — one run by the port trust itself and the other run by P&O Ports at Nhava Sheva. Once operational, the new container terminal is estimated to handle 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually.

The Shipping Ministry has asked JNPT to proceed with the conversion of the bulk terminal into a container terminal for which it has hired Ernst & Young to submit a detailed report.

The Government has taken this step, as the bulk terminal was lying unutilised due to a decline in the foodgrains and fertiliser traffic over the years.

P&O Ports, which operates the container terminal at Nhava Sheva in JNPT, has already approached the Government for developing the new terminal for the purpose of synergy with its existing terminal.

However, the officials said the new terminal would be awarded through a competitive bidding process as global private operators such as Maersk-Sealand and West Port of Malaysia had evinced interest in developing the facility.

"But, the Government is yet to take a decision on whether to allow P&O Ports to participate in the bidding process or not," the official noted.

"The Government is of the view that there should be competition between two private operators in JNPT for handling containers so that more and more container cargo can be handled directly in India without being transhipped from near-by ports at Colombo, Singapore and Dubai," the official stated.

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