A container ship sits docked at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, operated by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

PM Modi Inaugurates Phase-I Of Rs 7,900-Crore Fourth Container Terminal At JNPT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the Rs 7,900-crore fourth container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust that is expected to double its handling capacity.

Phase-I, which would add 2.4 million tonne equivalent units a year capacity, was completed at a cost of Rs 4,719 crore in 36 months. The second phase that will take the additional capacity to 10 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) would be completed by 2022.

Inaugurating the first phase of the fourth terminal of the JNPT, to be operated by the Singapore Ports, Modi said his government is focusing on port-led development.

If we have to carve out a place for ourselves in a globalised world, we need to enhance our waterways.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

The terminal, jointly developed by JNPT and Port of Singapore Authority, would be able to dock mother vessels, handle the biggest container ships and cranes that can reach 22 rows wide or more, said Neeraj Bansal, chairman at JNPT. The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs 7,915 crore, making it the highest foreign direct investment in the ports sector, a JNPT statement said.

“We need more value addition in exports. Only building ports will not help,” said Gopal Krishna, secretary, shipping, government of India. “We have many ports in the country. Container ports are required.”

The terminal, once complete, will be the largest cargo handling port in the country with a provision for storing 1,600 refrigerated containers to also handle agriculture and horticulture produce. To enhance the connectivity from JNPT to various parts of the country, the trust is working on a dedicated 12-lane freight corridor, which stretches up to Goa to ease traffic congestion, informed Krishna. It would be ready by 2020.

This terminal will give employment to 1.25 lakh konkan people, Road, Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said.

Along with expansion at JNPT, the Ministry of Shipping is also working on developing four dry ports in Maharashtra—Satara, Sangli, Jalna, and Wardha. “This would further boost the logistics capabilities as well as exports,” said Krishna. The process of land acquisition is underway.

JNPT handles 36 percent of country’s containerised exports. Of which, 22 percent come from Maharashtra and the rest from other parts of the country.

PSA Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Chong Meng said the port is targeting to handle 500,000 TEUs in 2018 and then add further. He said JNPT, which awarded the fourth terminal to the PSA in May 2014 after long delays, has struggled with capacity till now due to which ports like Mundra in the private sector have been able to attract more traffic.

"Because of this capacity constraint, cargo movements have been sought to move to other places. Perhaps, not their first choice to do so. They would prefer to go through Mumbai as this city has a very big hinterland," Meng said.

Now that the capacity has been added, government will also be able to seek investments for the economy, he added and underlined the need to have the pricing power for operators. "The first phase took a lot of energy, we learnt a lot," he said, without elaborating. The project has been executed with the support of Singaporean banks, Meng said, adding that features like a longer berth and modern cranes which can handle larger ships, distinguish it from other terminals of JNPT located off the financial capital's eastern coastline.

With inputs from PTI.