Adani Ports keen to enter AP, Maha, K’taka and foreign nations

Thiruvananthapuram: Adani Ports is keen to complete its own ‘Sagarmala’ dream by having presence in the three key states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, apart from setting up trans-shipment terminals in Southeast Asia and East Africa, a top company official said.

Adani Group, which began work on its first international trans-shipment container port at Vizhinjam near here yesterday, now operates nine ports which would have an installed capacity of 490 million tonnes (MT) by the next fiscal. With this, the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) becomes the country’s largest ports operator in the private sector.

The Gautam Adani-led company would be closing the year with having handled 144 MT cargo out of its present installed capacity of 390 MT.

The company has set a target of exceeding 200 MT of cargo handling by 2020 at an investment of Rs 9,000 crore, but it is likely to achieve it by 2018.

“Our focus will be having presence in these three states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, so that our nine ports are better served and our own ‘Sagarmala’ plan is fulfilled.

“We are also keen to have trans-shipment terminals in Southeast Asia, especially in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and also in East Africa, so that these facilities can serve the upcoming Vizhinjam facility, which can compete on cost with the Colombo and Singapore ports, which handle more than 80 per cent of the country’s international trade,” Karan Adani, Executive Director of the APSEZ and son of group Chairman Gautam Adani, told PTI here.

The government has embarked on an ambitious project of port development across the country’s over 7,000-km-long coastline and named it as the ‘Sagarmala Project’, for which it has committed Rs 70,000 crore in investments.
“Our Vizhinjam strategy will be cost-led and we are

confident that we can beat Colombo and other nearby ports on costs,” Adani said, adding the new port will be operational in three years from now.

The port would have capacity of 1.5 MT before starting the second phase, which would increase it to 2.2 MT. The capacity would be further raised to 3 MT in the third phase.

In a major boost to the Vizhinjam port, Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, while attending the ground-breaking ceremony here last evening, announced that the controversial cabotage laws will not apply to the port.

It may be recalled that the Vallarpadam trans-shipment terminal at Kochi, which is the country’s first such facility commissioned in February 2011, is utilising only around 30 per cent of its capacity.

Some of the reasons for the poor show are the stringent cabotage laws, which prevent international ships from operating in domestic waters, and also the tariff fixation policy of the government, which does not allow ports to fix tariffs independently.

The government had, in 2012, allowed a three-year cabotage exemption to the Vallarpadam port which expired in September this year. The government is yet to take a call on a full exemption.

Adani said the Mundra port already offers trans-shipment facilities to Pakistan for its cargo coming from East Africa. Last year, the port had handled around 4 lakh tonnes of trans-shipment cargo for the country’s western neighbour, he added.

The company’s flagship port at Mundra is the fastest- growing port in the country. Its other ports and terminals include Dahej, Hazira and Tuna Tekra, Kandla in Gujarat, Dhamra in Odisha, Mormugao in Goa and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

It is set to buy the Kattupalli port in Tamil Nadu and is developing Ennore port near Chennai, and is also building the Rs 7,525-crore Vizhinjam port in association with the Kerala government.