Bhadrak (BHC): Rail movement to and from Orissa’s Dhamra port, a joint venture between Tata Steel and Larsen & Toubro, has started, marking the commissioning of the port. On Sunday, the first railway rake, after loading of around 3,400 tonnes of imported coal at the port, left for Tata Steel’s Jamshedpur plant.
The empty rake had arrived at the port on Saturday following the issue of commercial notification by the Indian Railways on Friday.
Inquiries with the Railways reveal that a second rake had been requisitioned on Monday and hopefully there would be more such requisitions in coming days. “We’ve enough coal lying at the port, enough to load more than 10 rakes”, a spokesman for Dhamra Port Company (DPC) told over phone from Dhamra, soon after the first rake was flagged off.
But Railway sources make it clear that not more than two rakes a day can be handled at the moment due to operational constraints relating to signalling and other facilities. Also, the silo loading of the first rake at the port, it is indicated, has not been without teething troubles.
Faster than Barges
It might be noted that the port-level cargo handling facilities at Dhamra were in place more than six months ago, so much so that between September last year and April this year as many as four ships unloaded at the port a total of about 1.6 lakh tonnes of coal imported from Australia. Since the rail connectivity was not ready then, the consignments, all on Tata Steel account, were reloaded in barges and sent to Haldia for a second round of discharge.
With the commissioning of the railway network on Sunday, the barge movement, it is felt, will be rendered redundant, of course subject to availability of rakes. Barge movement involves multiple handling (including rail transportation of the mineral between Haldia and Jamshedpur), more time and therefore additional cost.
On the other hand, the distance between Dhamra port and Jamshedpur will be covered by rail in around 10 hours, add the railway sources.
The rail connectivity to Dhamra port (62 km of route length and 120 km of track length including loops and siding) is the first test case under the new concept, R3is (Railways’ Infrastructure for Industry Initiative), introduced by the Railways.
The Dhamra port is covered by the private line model which presupposes sharing of revenue (after deducting various charges) between the Railways and DPC. The sharing ratio is still to be finalised.
Dhamra Port Company Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture between Tata Steel and L&T Ltd that developed a port at Dhamra on Orissa on BOOST basis, has signed an agreement with Indian Railways to implement the relevant provisions of the newly introduced Railway Initiatives for Infrastructure Investments. The initiatives have several components some of which are not applicable to the project though. The relevant provisions provide, among other things, that after 30 years Indian Railways becomes the owner of the land provided by the Orissa government for constructing the 62km railway line between Bhadrak on the Howrah Chennai trunk route and the port. The operations of the port railway will be undertaken by the Railways, which will share with Dhamra Port Company a portion of the freight to be earned by it for transportation of cargo to and from the port. Accordingly, agreements are being signed between DPCL and the Orissa government as also between DPCL and Railways. Construction work on the 62km DhamraBhadrak rail link is nearly complete. DPCL proposes to commission the 2,400crore port project by July 2011. In phaseI, the company will install two fully mechanised berths of 350 metres each with a capacity to handle 27 million tpa along with a backup facility for handling import of coking coal, steam coal and limestone and export of iron ore. The company plans to set up 13 berths with a capacity to handle more than 100 million tpa of dry and liquid bulk cargoes including containers. Located between Haldia and Paradip, the port at Dhamra will be the deepest port in India with a draught of 18 metres, which can accommodate super capesize vessels up to 180,000 DWT.