It May Not Be a Smooth Sail for Adani’s Dhamra Port
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone wants to convert its new prized possession — the .` 5,500-crore Dhamra Port — into Mundra Port of the east coast, on the back of an expected upturn in the economy and access to the vast mineral belt. But experts point out that it’s not going to be an easy task with limited availability of land, stiffer competition and poorer connectivity. Gautam Adani built Mundra Port, often described as the crown jewel of the Adani Group, in Gujarat in 1994. It went to become India’s largest private port. Factors like political backing, access to land and industrialisation in the state helped. It is still not showing signs of slowing down. “Mundra is not something that just comes up. Lot of things happened that helped it. Also ports on the west coast were struggling to handle cargo with limited capacity. The cargo moved to Mundra,” said Vibhor Singhal, an analyst with Phillip Capital. “Dhamra will not grow at the same magnitude as Mundra did. But it can move directionally towards it.”
Dhamra Port located in Odisha handled a total cargo of 14.3 million tonnes last financial year and it aims to grow it 15-20% this year. It currently has two berths and recently received environment clearance for constructing 12 more to scale its cargo handling capacity to 100MT by 2020 from 24MT at present. Mundra Port crossed 100MT-mark by handling 101.12MT cargo in fiscal 2014. It has actual capacity to handle almost double at 180MT per annum. “Dhamra Port is no Mundra. If Dhamra can achieve even one-third or one-fourth of what Mundra has done, it is good enough. The availability of land is 15-20 times more in Mundra and had political backing in Gujarat,” said Ramesh Singhal, CEO at i-maritime Consultancy. Mundra has about 15,665 acres of land. Dhamra, after trying for many years, finally got additional land of about 745 acres from the state government recently.
Singhal pointed out another thing that sets Mundra apart from Dhamra is better connectivity. Even though Dhamra has 63 km of private rail connectivity, road connectivity is poor compared with Gujarat.
Many say Dhamra has potential despite several challenges to be the gateway to the eastern India the same way Mundra is for the western India. If economic growth picks up in the country, Dhamra will be one of the first to take advantage of it, say analysts.