Samsara Newsletter

Week 47, 2018 (Nov 17 - Nov 23)

Policy & Economy News

India second-fastest growing innovator among major Asian countries: Report

India Inc Q2 earnings growth highest in 7 quarters, combined net up 16.2%

India will be Global Hub of Start-Up Community

Business News - The India Boom Factor

Merchandise exports soar in value terms in Oct

Oct. exports of textile & apparel grow 38 pc

India, Australia sign five agreements

Shipping News

INDIAMED service to call at DP World's NSIGT

Logistics News

New Highways and New Routes to create New India : Nitin Gadkari

Indian Port News

APM Terminals Pipavav bets big on LPG, Auto cargo for growth

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates Water Front Development of Mumbai Port

JSW Group plans Rs. 2,000-crore (Rs.20 billion) captive Port in Karnataka

VPT all set to go ahead with expansion of Container Terminal

Policy & Economy News

India second-fastest growing innovator among major Asian countries: Report
Economic Times - November 22 Top
With patent publication nearly doubling in a decade, India is now the second-fastest growing innovator after China among major Asian countries, a new report said on Thursday.

India is fourth among the major Asian countries in terms of overall patent publication volume, and second in terms of growth rate, said the "India Innovation Report" by Philadelphia-headquartered Clarivate Analytics.

Patent activity in India is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8 per cent in patenting activity over the past five years, second only to China which is growing at a CAGR of 15.5 per cent, among the top Asian countries, the research showed.

"The sustained growth rate of innovation in India, as represented in patents published, is promising," Arvind Pachhapur, Vice President, Clarivate Analytics, said in a statement.

"In the past two years, the most significant growth stems from India's top four technology categories, computing, polymers and plastics, communications, and pharmaceuticals, demonstrating an increase in convergence of technologies with computing and communications at the core of several industries," Pachhapur said.

The analysis is based on patent data from Derwent Innovation, a patent research application that provides access to patent intelligence and scientific literature.

The top patent filing organisations in the country are an equal mix of resident (Indian origin) and non-resident companies.

Some of the noteworthy resident organizations are Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Cadila Healthcare and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the report said.

A few of the top non-resident patent filing organisations include Samsung, Huawei, General Electric and Ericsson, it added.

India Inc Q2 earnings growth highest in 7 quarters, combined net up 16.2%
Business Standard - November 19 Top
Corporate India reported a good set of numbers during the July-September 2018 quarter, thanks to gains from a low base during the corresponding quarter last fiscal year and a better-than-expected showing by metals and mining firms.

The combined net profit of 1,889 companies across sectors was up 16.2 per cent year-on-year (YoY) during the second quarter (Q2) of 2018-19, growing at the fastest pace in the last seven quarters. Earnings were down 10.8 per cent YoY during Q2 of last fiscal year.

In rupee terms, the combined net profit grew to ~1.15 trillion, a number last seen during the first half of

2015-16. Quarterly corporate profits had fluctuated between ~724 billion and ~1.12 trillion in the previous 16 quarters. Companies' combined revenues were up 19.6 per cent YoY during Q2, the best in at least three years. Nearly 60 per cent of incremental growth in the top line was accounted for by oil and gas companies and metals and mining firms, in line with the recent surge in energy and metal prices.

The combined net sales of energy companies, including Reliance Industries, were up 48 per cent YoY, while metals and mining companies' net sales were up 23 per cent during the quarter.

"The net profit margin witnessed a marginal contraction during the quarter, but it has been observed that some industries have been picking up momentum, leaving behind the demonetisation and goods and services tax (GST) impact that hit their growth and earnings last fiscal year," says Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings.

Metals and mining companies also topped the earnings growth chart, with 151 per cent growth in the sector's combined net profit during Q2, led by Coal India and Tata Steel, which reported a large positive swing in profits during the quarter.

The combined net profit of companies, excluding banks, financials, and energy, was up 29.2 per cent YoY during the quarter, enhanced by a lower base during the corresponding quarter a year ago.

The sample companies' combined net profit was down 14.9 per cent YoY during Q2 of 2017-18. In rupee terms, combined net profit grew to ~770 billion, against ~596 billion a year ago and ~737 billion three months ago.

Numbers suggest the domestic manufacturers seem to have finally recovered the ground lost to the twin shocks of demonetisation and the roll-out of the GST. The combined net profit of companies' ex-financials, energy, metals and mining, information technology (IT), and pharmaceuticals was up 24.8 per cent YoY during Q2, marginally down from 26.6 per cent YoY growth reported during the first quarter of the current fiscal year. This universe of companies constitutes domestic-focused manufacturers. The earnings growth among domestic manufacturers was led by infrastructure companies, capital goods makers, electrode manufacturers, packaging companies, and logistics firms, among others.

In contrast cement, automobile makers, auto ancillaries, consumer durables makers, airlines, and media and entertainment companies' disappointed investors with lower than expected earnings growth. Earnings in the domestic manufacturing sector were negatively affected by companies' inability to pass on the rise in input cost, hurting their margins.

Domestic manufacturers' core operating margin (excluding other income) was down 150 basis points on a YoY basis, led by rise in raw materials and energy costs.

Among individual companies, the biggest positive swing in profits was reported by Alok Industries (~4.1 billion), State Bank of India (~3.6 billion), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (~3.1 billion), Ruchi Soya Industries (~2.9 billion), and Coal India (~2.7 billion). At the other end of the spectrum, the negative swing in profits was reported by Punjab National Bank, IDBI Bank, Tata Motors, and Vodafone India, which reported losses between ~3.3 billion and ~5.1 billion in Q2.

"The September corporate earnings report season was broadly in line with our expectations as far as the Nifty earnings are concerned. However, our universe numbers missed our expectations, entirely attributed to disappointments from public sector banks and telecom sectors," writes Gautam Duggad of Motilal Oswal Securities.

He says that while the underlying earnings story is improving (better revenue growth trends, corporate banks' asset quality turning around, among others), new risks to earnings are also emerging (automobiles and retail non-banking finance companies, among others). Consequently, the direction of the earnings revision is still trending down.

India will be Global Hub of Start-Up Community
Press Information Bureau - New Delhi, November 19 Top
Indian startups have the capacity to bring about transformational change to India's growth story said Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, in New Delhi today. He was speaking at the launch of a report on the State of the Indian StartupEcosystem-2018 by Inc 42 which is an Indian information platform known for its coverage of the Indian startup ecosystem.

The Minister went on to say that the Commerce & Industry Ministry is taking many initiatives to foster a positive and empowering ecosystem for startups togrow and flourish in the country. To this end many regulations which were in place for traditional industries are now being reviewed and either scrapped or modified in order to facilitate the ecosystem which will fosterand encourage startups to take root in India.

Commerce Minister also said that the Ministry is holding a global investors meeting next month in India where top investors are being invited to participate in a roundtable meeting in order to pave the way for greater investments in Indian startups.

Suresh Prabhu referred to the jump that India has made in the Ease of Doing Business rankings and said that all efforts are now being made to ensure that India joins the group of countries in the top 50.

Commerce Minister in his address at the event said that change is the new constant in today's world and the youth of India have within them the grit and determination to create positive change through new ideas which will benefit citizens of not only India but bring about positive change globally.

Business News - The India Boom Factor

Merchandise exports soar in value terms in Oct.
Exim News Service - New Delhi, Nov. 18 Top
Merchandise exports (including re-exports) in October 2018 were $ 26.98 billion, as compared to $ 22.89 billion in October 2017, exhibiting a positive growth of 17.86 per cent. In rupee terms, exports were Rs 1,98,634.84 crore (Rs.1.9 trillion) in October 2018, as compared to Rs 1,48,962.64 crore (Rs.1.4 trillion) in October 2017, registering a positive growth of 33.35 per cent.

Major commodity groups of exports in October 2018 showing positive growth over the corresponding month of last year are shown in Box 1.


India's trade deficit with China is its widest with any country, with large amounts of electronics and other items flowing across the border from its northern neighbour. The government has confirmed that it is set to boost exports of rice and rapeseed to China to try to narrow this gap, reports said.

Cumulative value of exports for the period April-October 2018-19 was $ 191.01 billion (Rs 13,23,940.28 crore) as against $ 168.64 billion (Rs 10,87,270.47 crore) during the period April-October 2017-18, registering a positive growth of 13.27 per cent in dollar terms (21.77 per cent in rupee terms).

Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in October 2018 were $ 18.94 billion, as compared to $ 16.54 billion in October 2017, exhibiting a positive growth of 14.54 per cent. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April-October 2018-19 were $ 137.98 billion, as compared to $ 124.45 billion for the corresponding period in 2017-18, an increase of 10.88 per cent.


Imports in October 2018 were $ 44.11 billion (Rs 3,24,774.78 crore), which was 17.62 per cent higher in dollar terms and 33.07 per cent higher in rupee terms over imports of $ 37.50 billion (Rs 2,44,064.20 crore) in October 2017. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-October 2018-19 was $ 302.47 billion (Rs 20,97,058.41 crore), as against $ 259.92 billion (Rs 16,75,887.95 crore) during the period April-October 2017-18, registering a positive growth of 16.37 per cent in dollar terms (25.13 per cent in rupee terms).

Major commodity groups of imports showing high growth in October 2018 over the corresponding month of last year are shown in Box 2.


India's overall exports (merchandise and services combined) in April-October 2018-19 are estimated to be $ 308.32 billion, exhibiting a positive growth of 17.17 per cent over the same period last year. Overall imports in April-October 2018-19 are estimated to be $ 374.88 billion, exhibiting a positive growth of 18.88 per cent over the same period last year.

Crude oil and non-oil imports

Oil imports in October 2018 were $ 14.21 billion (Rs 1,04,630.60 crore), which was 52.64 per cent higher in dollar terms (72.70 per cent higher in rupee terms), compared to $ 9.31 billion (Rs 60,586.10 crore) in October 2017. Oil imports in April-October 2018-19 were $ 83.94 billion (Rs 5,82,813.70 crore) which was 50.48 per cent higher in dollar terms (62.01 per cent higher in rupee terms) compared to $ 55.78 billion (Rs 3,59,733.15 crore), over the same period last year.

Non-oil imports in October 2018 were estimated at $ 29.90 billion (Rs 2,20,144.18 crore) which was 6.05 per cent higher in dollar terms (19.98 per cent higher in rupee terms), compared to $ 28.19 billion (Rs 1,83,478.10 crore) in October 2017. Non-oil imports in April-October 2018-19 were $ 218.53 billion (Rs 15,14,244.71 crore) which was 7.05 per cent higher in dollar terms (15.05 per cent higher in rupee terms), compared to $ 204.14 billion (Rs 13,16,154.80 crore) in April-October 2017-18.

Non-oil and non-gold imports were $ 28.21 billion in October 2018, recording a positive growth of 11.77 per cent, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports in October 2017. Non-oil and non-gold imports were $ 199.21 billion in April-October 2018-19, recording a positive growth of 8.14 per cent, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports in April-October 2017-18, said a release.

Oct. exports of textile & apparel grow 38 pc
Exim News Service - Mumbai, Nov. 18 Top
According to the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), exports of textile and apparel grew 38 per cent to a value of Rs 20,353 crore (Rs.203.5 billion) in October 2018, as against Rs 14,779 crore (Rs.147.7 billion) reported in the same month of 2017.

During the month, apparel exports alone grew at a whopping 54 per cent, reports said.

CITI said that exports of cotton yarn/fabs/made-ups and handloom products during October 2018 grew 25 per cent to Rs 6,704 crore (Rs.67.04 billion) as compared to Rs 5,376 crore (Rs.53.7 billion) in October 2017.

Exports of man-made fabs/yarn and made-ups during the month grew 31 per cent to Rs 3,037 crore (Rs.30.3 billion) as compared to Rs 2,312 crore (Rs.23.1 billion) in October 2017.

Similarly, carpet and handicrafts export grew 52 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, to Rs 1,013 crore (Rs.10.1 billion) and Rs 1,078 crore (Rs 10.7 billion) during the month, CITI said, according to reports.

India, Australia sign five agreements
Press Trust of India - November 23 Top
India and Australia on November 22, 2018 signed five agreements to boost investments and enhance cooperation in areas including services to the disabled, bilateral investment, scientific collaboration and agricultural research and education.

The agreements were signed during the talks held between Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sidney, Australia. The Indian President has become the first-ever Indian head of state to visit Australia. He arrived in the country on November 21, as a part of the second leg of his two-nation trip.

The following are the five pacts:

1. Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Australia for cooperation in the area of disability and to deliver services to the differently-abled.

2. Agreement between Invest India and Austrade to facilitate bilateral investment. 3. Agreement between the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute, based in Ranchi and the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation, based in Canberra, to foster scientific collaboration and innovation.

4. Agreement between the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur and the University of Western Australia, Perth, for cooperation in agricultural research and education.

5. Joint Ph.D. agreement between the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi and the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

The agreements were exchanged by High Commissioners of both the countries, in the presence of Marise Payne, Foreign Minister of Australia and Anantkumar Hegde, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

Following the high-level delegation meeting, Australian Prime Minister Morrison announced the release of Australia's response to the India Economic Strategy, a blueprint to transform the economic engagement.

The report mainly highlights Australia's aim of deepening economic engagement with India, targeting 10 Indian states and 10 key sectors, while providing practical support for Australian businesses entering or expanding operations in India.

Shipping News

INDIAMED service to call at DP World's NSIGT
Daily Shipping Times - Navi Mumbai - November 19 Top
Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal (NSIGT) - which DP World refers as its futuristic investment and trade enabler in India's emerging market economy - has won a new, major consortium call, as ocean carriers continue their alliance/tonnage realignments to lessen operating costs and improve profitability.

NSIGT is one of the two terminal concessions DP World holds at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India's busiest container harbor.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. will lead a revamped, upsized weekly route connecting India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, under a vessel-sharing agreement (VSA) with CMA CGM and Cosco Shipping Lines.

The "INDIAMED" (India-Middle East-East Mediterranean) service will employ seven vessels - with capacities reportedly ranging from 9,000 TEU to 9,400 TEU. Of these, MSC will phase in five ships, and the other two partners will contribute one vessel each.

The MSC Alghero, voyage IT846R, will hold the first call at NSIGT on Nov. 21, according to industry sources.

Port rotation

The port rotation will be as follows: Hamad, Qatar; Jubail, Saudi Arabia; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Mundra and Nhava Sheva (JNPT), India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia; Port Said, Egypt; Mersin, Turkey; Piraeus, Greece; Tekirdag, Istanbul, Mersin, and Iskenderun, Turkey; King Abdullah; Salalah, Oman; Jebel Ali; Khalifa, Abu Dhabi; and back to Hamad, providing a 49-day roundtrip voyage.

The new India-Mediterranean service addition reportedly brings the number of weekly calls at NSIGT to seven.

Amid intensifying regional competition, following the opening of BMCT in February, that large-size consortium call is expected to be a major "growth engine" for DP World Subcontinent, which has lately prioritized operations at NSIGT as part of a strategy to sidestep long-running royalty payment and tariff issues plaguing its flagship Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT) in the public harbor.

NSIGT hosted the 13,000-TEU MSC Cristina in April 2017 - said to be the largest-ever container ship call at an Indian Port - and "efficiency" is seen as the major allure for carriers/consortia adding calls at the port. Equipped with advanced / sophisticated marine infrastructure and an optical character recognition (OCR) technology-based gate solution - a first at Indian Ports - NSIGT also boasts a 1 million TEU annual capacity.

Further, DP World Nhava Sheva has been at the forefront of Ease-of-Doing-Business and automation measures at JNPT, and the recently introduced "on-wheel examination and sampling" services for import cargo booked under the direct port delivery (DPD) program has broadened the company's trade-centric approach.

Logistics News

New Highways and New Routes to create New India : Nitin Gadkari
Daily Shipping Times - Mumbai, November 19 Top
Government wants to give highest priority to infrastructure. To realise New India dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is constructing new Highways and new routes, said Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping while starting second bundle of Toll-Operate-Transfer Model for investment in Highway building. Under this, the asset recycling of operational national highways is done. First bundle of above model attracted investment of 1.5 billion, which was 1.5 times of NHAI estimate. Shri Gadkari expected that second bundle will have even higher response.

TOT will give assured returns to investors without risks associated with traditional highway building projects. State Bank of India, has given loan of 3.6 billion dollars to NHAI.

Road construction which was at pace of 2 kms. per day when NDA Government took charge has reached 28 kms. per day today and Government has target of taking it to 45 kms. per day in future, Shri Gadkari said.

Vehicle manufacturing and port sector are seeing good growth and it will see higher growth further, Minister said. Government will provide all support to private players for dealing with Centre and State Governments, Shri Gadkari said.

Indian Port News

APM Terminals Pipavav bets big on LPG, Auto cargo for growth
Daily Shipping Times -Ahmedabad, November 19 Top
Private Ports operator, APM Terminals Pipavav looks to capitalise its strength in the Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) and automobile cargo for a faster growth of its port operations at Pipavav Port in Gujarat.

Mr. Keld Pedersen, Managing Director, believes that growth in port's operations will be driven by the rise in LPG and automobile cargo businesses. "We are very keen on seeing exports grow. Car manufacturing in India, goes hand-in-hand with our port operations. We are preferred port for many of the auto OEMs.

The outlook for automobile exports is bright and we are optimistic for sustained growth in this segment," said Pedersen.

"We have achieved a record of roughly 200,000 TEUs of container business in the last two quarters. Going forward automobile and LPG will drive the growth," Pedersen said recently.

He further added that LPG cargo has about 70 per cent share in the overall liquid cargo volumes of 1 million tonnes recorded last year. "It is said to have a great outlook for the next decade. LPG will grow because of more areas can be covered going forward. We are very optimistic about that part of the business," he added.

For the quarter ended September 2018, APM Terminals' bulk business stood at 532,000 MT, and liquid business stood at 93,000 tonnes. The RoRo (roll-on roll-off) business handled about 22,000 cars for the second quarter.

APM Terminals Pipavav currently has a capacity to handle up to 1.35 million TEUs of containers, besides 4-5 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo, 2 million tonnes of liquid cargo and about 250,000 cars per year.

Of the five berths at APM Terminals Pipavav Port, there is one dedicated LPG berth with a draught of 11.5 metres with length overall (LOA) of 170 metres for LPG tankers.

For container vessels of upto LOA of 335 metres there is another berth with draught of 14.5 metres and for bulk carriers of upto LOA of 240 metres the berths have draught of 13.5 metres.

Mr. Pedersen ruled out possibility of any further capex or new business addition being worked out. "We are always evaluating new opportunities. But for now we don't have any plans other than to continue what we do."

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates Water Front Development of Mumbai Port
Daily Shipping Times - Mumbai, November 20 Top
Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari on 17 November 2018 inaugurated two floating restaurants under the ongoing water front development work of Mumbai Port in Mumbai.

Besides participating in Bhoomi Poojan ceremony of Mumbai Port Trust's new Eastern Water Front, Shri Gadkari also launched the Access Control & RFID System as well as development of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

As part of the programme, Shri Gadkari also launhed invitation of tenders for Mumbai-Elephanta Ropeway and a Super Specialty Hospital at the Port.

The two Floating Restaurants have the capacity to accommodate 475 persons each. Licenses have been awarded for three floating restaurants - two at the sea off Gateway of India and one at the sea off Girgaum Chowpatty. These will be available for family functions, corporate or specialized events, public meets, etc. The restaurants have been registered with Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) for safety and security. Sea-worthiness, life-saving appliances and fire fighting equipment have been surveyed and tested. The restaurants carry 500 life-jackets and 24 life-rafts and buoyant apparatus, and are equipped with 2 VHF, 1 Radar, eco-sounder, GPS and AIS for monitoring ship movements.

The Mumbai-Elephanta Ropeway will be the world's longest ropeway over sea - approximately 8 kms - with all the necessary infrastructure at both the terminal ends. It will be built at a height of 50 to 125 metres above the sea level on European standards with state of art features. Total travel time will be 16 minutes from one end to the other. Around 36 gondolas can be deployed on the ropeway at a time. The Project has been envisaged at a cost Rs. 800 crores (Rs.8 billion), and will be completed by August, 2022.

The 600-bedded Super Specialty Hospital will provide improved health facilities to 75000 port employees and dependents and 1.3 crore (13 million) population in the catchment area by converting the present port hospital into World-class Super Specialty hospital on PPP basis. Cost of the project will be Rs 693 Crores (Rs.6.9 billion).

Mumbai Port Trust's new Eastern Water Front will have an iconic building as its seaside terminal, a domestic cruise terminal, a skating rink, Ro Pax, seaside restaurant and walkway, amphitheatre and marina.

The Access Control System (Indoor & Outdoor) for visitors, employees and vehicles is designed and programmed to retrieve visitor information. Visitor and Vehicle Management System will be in place with online/office visitor and vehicle registration. RFID enabled, multi-purpose cards are configured to track visitors and vehicles, attendance recording, identity card, etc.

For development of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Tech Mahindra have been engaged for adoption of information technology within port operations to reduce turnaround time.

It is aimed at removing paper-based workflows currently in the system to increase efficiency, common reporting and monitoring to make cost and budget control easy, and unification of computerized operations from staggered mode to an integrated functioning.

JSW Group plans Rs. 2,000-crore (Rs.20 billion) captive Port in Karnataka
Daily Shipping Times - Mumbai, November 22 Top
Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group is looking to set up a captive Port at Pavinkurve in Karnataka's Honnavar taluk with an investment of Rs. 2,000 crore (Rs.20 billion). The port will meet the demand for its Vijayanagar steel plant, which is being expanded to 18 million tonnes (mt) from 12 mt, a company official has said.

"We have submitted a proposal, including a detailed project report, to the Karnataka Government for setting up a captive Port at Pavinkurve with a capacity to handle 15 mt of cargo," a JSW Group official said.

A spokesman for Karnataka's Ports Department confirmed receiving the proposal from JSW Group. "We will scrutinise the proposal and implement the port project through the Swiss Challenge mode," he said. Under the Swiss Challenge method for suo motu proposals such as the one filed by the JSW Group, the State Government will call for competing counter offers.

JSW will shall have the right of first refusal to match the highest bid submitted in the tender and develop the port.

"The entire 15 mt of cargo for the port will come from JSW only. There is no other cargo. It's unlikely that anyone else will participate in the Swiss Challenge," the JSW official said.

A new port is key to JSW's plan to expand the capacity of Vijayanagar steel plant - India's largest single location steel producing facility.

Even the new port will only partially meet the requirements of the expanded Vijayanagar plant.

Port facilities

Currently, JSW is meeting the logistics needs of the steel plant through two multi-purpose berths run by South West Port Ltd, a subsidiary at Mormugao Port in Goa.

At 4 lakh tonnes per month, South West Port is able to handle only 3.6 mt of coal a year or half the requirement of the steel plant. JSW is meeting the balance requirements through a terminal run by the Adani Group at Mormugao Port and partly through New Mangalore Port and privately-run Krishnapatnam Port.

Having port facilities to handle in-house cargo will help JSW cut dependence on third parties in a business where logistics is a big and critical component.

VPT all set to go ahead with expansion of Container Terminal
Daily Shipping Times - Visakhapatnam, November 22 Top
The Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), which has prepared the blueprint to become a world-class port, is all set to raise the green flag for the expansion of container terminal with an investment of Rs. 633 crore (Rs.6.3 billion), one of its big-ticket projects.

With Visakha Container Terminal Private Limited, the BOT operator for the project, achieving the financial closure, the works are expected to commence by the year-end or early next year. After approval from the board, the Letter of Concession will be issued, the VPT officials say.

Though the VPT signed the concession agreement with the VCTPL, a joint venture of United Liner Agency (a part of J.M. Baxi Group) and Dubai Ports International, on December 17 in 2015, the grounding of the project took a long time owing to the issues pertaining to road connectivity, prolonged recession among other factors. The VCTPL has committed a gross revenue share of 11.04% to the VPT.

"The project is likely to take off very shortly and it is one of the prestigious projects undertaken by the port," VPT Deputy Chairman P.L. Haranadh says.

The VCTPL was built in Vizag, at the centre of East Coast and close to Malacca Straits, as a BOT terminal in 2003.

With its strategic location and wide hinterland, the project is as an ideal gateway for container traffic. It has a natural depth of 16.5 metres, quay length of 450 m and channel width of 220 m.

Cabotage law relaxed

With the handling capacity of 0.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), the VCTPL has set a target to increase it to 2 million TEU by 2020.

The facility has modern infrastructure including post-Panamax ship to shore cranes, more than 350 reefer plug points and excellent rail siding. Industry sources say that as the Cabotage law has been relaxed, the VCTPL has a potential to emerge as a regional transhipment hub with main liner such as Maersk operating dedicated service connecting the Visakhapatnam Port to the Middle East and other international destinations.

In May this year, the Union Shipping Ministry issued a notification lifting the curbs on foreign registered vessels on transportation of loaded or empty containers between Indian ports.

Earlier, it was the prerogative of Indian registered shipping lines that paid the taxes.