Vizag Port heading to develop into a landlord port

Vizag Port is set to become a landlord port in a few years still as several trade unions are upping the ante against privatisation of berths.

The move to allot Ore Handling Complex (OHC) to private investors under Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis recently attracted severe criticism by some unions, who have threatened to knock at the doors of judiciary to stall the suggestion.

The port, managed by Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963, recently sought suggestions for OHC mechanisation and upgradation at a charge of INR 845 crore.

Among those who responded to the global tenders were Essar and Vedanta. The clearance of Union Cabinet is necessary to finalise the concession contract, Sources said.

An official of Vizag Port pointed out, as part of Maritime Agenda-2020, the Ministry of Shipping needs to change all the major ports into landlord ports. “In a few years, our job will be to become a landlord port and collect royalty from those who run the berths under DBFOT basis.”

Vizag Port, which is among 12 working major ports in the country, will be converted into a gateway port shortly. It has several deep water basins. It serves a vast hinterland spread over Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra.

Former VPT trustee and BMS leader Mr. K. Bhavani Shankarudu said, “OHC privatisation will put a question mark over the livelihood of several employees who depend on it. The admission by the port that OHC management does not come under core area of operations is against the spirit of Major Port Trusts Act.”

VPT profits were falling due to landlord port concept, United Port and Dock Employees’ Union general secretary Mr. V.S. Padmanabha Raju said.