RE­TURN OF COAL IM­PORTERS PUTS WIND IN HAL­DIA SAILS

CARGO HAN­DLING SURGES 35% ON DE­LAYS AT DHAMRA, EVAC­U­A­TION IS­SUES AT PARADIP

Resource Digest - - MINING -

This year has been ex­cep­tion­ally good for Hal­dia port. Dur­ing the first five months of the fis­cal, the port recorded 27 per cent growth in cargo han­dling against 6.4 per cent and 10 per cent in 2013-14 and 2014-15, re­spec­tively.

The port at­tracted 30 lakh tonnes of ad­di­tional cargo in the April-Au­gust 2015 pe­riod — the same as it did in en­tire 2014-15.

Much of this, ac­cord­ing to sources, is at­trib­ut­able to is­sues at the Adani Group-run Dhamra port.

The deep-draft Dhamra port, which be­gan oper­a­tions a couple of years ago, was a big draw for coal im­porters, from the neigh­bour­ing Hal­dia and Paradip ports. Th­ese im­porters would bring cargo to Paradip for lighter­age from Pana­max ves­sels (65,000-80,000 tonne) to daugh­ter ves­sels for fi­nal un­load­ing at low-draft Hal­dia.

RAIL­WAY RAKES

Though Paradip is more ac­ces­si­ble to in­dus­tries in West Ben­gal and Jhark­hand, it faced the prob­lem of low avail­abil­ity of rail­way rakes. Dhamra, on the other hand, of­fered more ef­fi­cient mech­a­nised cargo han­dling and un­der Ada­nis, the avail­abil­ity of rail rakes im­proved as did its op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency.

Though op­er­at­ing un­der the same Khurda di­vi­sion of East Coast Rail­ways, traders re­port ready avail­abil­ity of rakes at Dhamra com­pared to wait of five-six months at Paradip.

LONG WAIT

How­ever, im­porters have been fac­ing de­lays at Dhamra. “My ships had to wait for two months last year be­fore they were un­loaded,” said a coal im­porter who is now back at Hal­dia.

Two other coal im­porters con­firmed the de­lays. They point to the fact that the Adani Group is also the coun­try’s largest coal im­porter.

Adani did not re­spond to queries. But cargo move­ment num­bers for Hal­dia port show a 35 per cent surge this year, with coal con­tribut­ing to two-thirds of the traf­fic.

Sources at Paradip said the evac­u­a­tion of cargo from Paradip through coastal ship­ping could be an added rea­son for Hal­dia’s growth.

Some 3.5 lakh tonnes of iron ore and 1.5 lakh tonnes of ther­mal coal await­ing evac­u­a­tion for months at Paradip were fi­nally moved to Hal­dia this year.

WOO­ING USERS

Af­ter a hec­tic first half, Hal­dia expects coal im­ports to slow in the sec­ond half of the fis­cal due to over­all eco­nomic con­di­tions. Nev­er­the­less, it is tak­ing sev­eral steps to woo users and im­prove vol­umes.

A GPS-based dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tion was re­cently in­tro­duced to help users lo­cate the avail­abil­ity of land in the port to store cargo.

The sys­tem, avail­able on mo­bile phones, re­duces the time taken to process ap­pli­ca­tions from 15 days to two.

Hal­dia is set to ink an agree­ment with Jin­dal ITF for off­shore trans-load­ing of coal from large ves­sels on high seas.

The port is also set­ting up berths out­side the lock area. When the re­fur­bish­ment of Berths 10 and 11 are com­pleted, Hal­dia expects growth in con­tainer­ised cargo traf­fic in the days ahead.

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