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Wednesday, January 10, 2001

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VPT mulling venture with Port Klang for box terminal

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Jan. 9

THE Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) is looking into the possibility of a collaboration with Malaysia's Port Klang Authority for developing a container terminal at the port.

``The port trust management is considering whether it can go in for a joint venture arrangement with Port Klang Authority for developing a container terminal at Vizag which will act as a feeder facility'', Government sources told Business Line.

The Union Government had last year amended the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 to allow the major port trusts, among other things, to forge joint ventures with ports owned or controlled by Governments abroad.

The Malaysian Government has expressed its desire to have some sort of an arrangement with the Indian Government on the container terminal projects at the Jawaharlal Nehru port and the Chennai port.

``But, the Government has told them very clearly about the status of the existing and proposed container terminal projects at the JNPT and Chennai respectively. Both the JNPT and Chennai doesn't seem to be probable. That's why they are very serious about the Tamil Nadu Government's proposal for a container and transhipment terminal at Colachel port'', the sources said.

According to the sources, the Ministry of Shipping will take a decision on whether to privatise the existing container terminal at the JNPT or not in the next six to eight months.

``The decision whether to privatise or not depends on the integrated plan of JNPT. Issues like what should be done with the bulk terminal, whether JNPT will become only a container port, if the bulk operations are to be carried out there will be no point in giving another small bit to somebody else etc.'', the sources said.

The Government's view is that the JNPT should become a hub port which implies that it should be able to berth on the same terminal two daughter vessels and one mother vessel. It should have that much sufficient quay length'', sources said.

Another issue is the deepening of the JN port channel. ``So the entire gamut of activities have to be looked into before we decide on whether to privatise the existing container terminal at the JNPT or not'', they added.

The Haldia Dock Complex was also looking at privatising the existing container terminal there, the sources said.

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