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AP govt plans to reopen Deccan outlet at Machilipatnam port

Written by: Staff

Machilipatnam, Apr 14 (UNI) The Andhra Pradesh government is planning to reopen the forming of an outlet to the Deccan at the Machilipatnam port with an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore, State Ports Department Director E Sridhar said here today.

Talking to UNI, he said so far nine tenders from the private sector have been received, of which five were qualified. The tenders would be finalised by the end of this month, he said.

He said the Machilipatnam port in Krishna district, located about 315 km north east of Chennai, and 240 km south west of Visakhapatnam port is one of two intermediate ports in the state.

He said a shallow serpentine salt creek flow from Bandar (Machilipatnam) tidal lock of Krishna delta canal system and port activities here are taking place on the northern bank of the salt creek, about six km from the confluence of the sea.

He said the port's maritime history dates back to 15 century forming an outlet to the Deccan. The port was an important trade centre until 1894. Prior to the world war, exports of groundnut was an important feature of the port but the trade had dwindled. Exports of iron ore was a major activity from 1952 till it vanished gradually by 1966-67 as guaranteed loading rates could not be ensured due to the instability of the approach channel.

The main problem of Machilipatnam port was the unsable nature of the sand bar which keeps shifting from south north and back in a cyclic manner. The approach keeps shifting and water depth of only two feet exists at low tide over the bar, he said.

The hinterland of the port consists of the rich delta districts of Krishna, Guntur and West Godavari and several industries like sugar and cement are located in the hinterland.

This anicient port at the head of hinterland is very rich in agricultural produce and mineral resources. Iron ore traffic was in existence at Machilipatnam port up to 1965 and the trade declined sharply by the end of 1965. After the Mines and Mineral Trading Corporation (MMTC) took over the iron ore exports in 1960, the rate of loading had increased per day.

He said lack of adequate depths over the bar and due to unstable nature of the approach channel, the iron ore shippers were unable to fulfill the required rate of loading and they were subjected to pay demurrage to the ships.

The MMTC, which had gradually withdrawn exports trade, at all minor ports trade, revived through this port during 1978 and the port had handed 12 fertiliser ships from April 1978 to February 1980, during which a total quantity of about 50,000 MT per day had been achieved in handling cargo, he added.

However, no ships have called at the Machilipatnam port after February 1980 till 1983 since the Food Corporation of India, as a matter of their policy, had withdrawn its contract of importing fertilisers through minor intermediate ports.

After seven years, a cargo ship m v Dalaki arrived with about 30,000 MT of bulk urea in 1987. During the time unrest prevailed among the workers in the port, resulting about Rs 10 lakh worth of urea getting destroyed due to rain. Overnight, the ship was shifted to Kakinada. That was the last ship which visited this anicient port. Since then Machilipatnam port had been closed permently.

Meanwhile, exports were expecting and the port would be reopen in between Pedakaragraham and Manginipudi instead of the old port, he added.

UNI XR ROY 16040

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