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Adani Ports sign concession pact for Haldia Dock terminal days after apex court ruling on qualification in port tenders

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KOLKATA : Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) said its wholly owned unit HDC Bulk Terminal Ltd (HBTL) has signed a concession agreement with Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Authority for mechanization of Berth No 2 at Haldia Dock Complex days after the Supreme Court cleared the way for its qualification in cargo handling tenders issued by State-owned major port authorities.

The signing of the concession agreement for the project was held up due to APSEZ’s disqualification from cargo handling tenders issued by other State-owned port authorities citing the termination of a contract involving the firm at Visakhapatnam Port, that makes it ineligible to participate.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Authority had issued a letter of award for the project to APSEZ on 10 February, after India’s biggest private port operator emerged the highest bidder on the tender by quoting a royalty of Rs75 per ton.

On 5 September, the apex court ruled that the firm’s disqualification arising from the termination of a contract at Visakhapatnam Port “shall not bar or act as disqualification for the petitioner (APSEZ) for future tenders floated by public bodies”.

The Haldia Dock Complex deal will help APSEZ enter West Bengal, one of the two coastal states (the other being Karnataka) where it does not have a presence. It will add to the string of 13 ports and terminals owned and run by APSEZ with a capacity to handle 562 million tons (mt) of cargo.

The project involves mechanising Berth No 2 at Haldia Dock Complex with an investment of Rs298.26 crore to handle 3.744 million tons (mt) of dry bulk cargo.

“The mechanization and upgradation of Haldia Bulk Terminal provides us the opportunity to firmly establish APSEZ’s footprint in Bengal,” said Karan Adani, CEO and Whole Time Director of APSEZ.

“We remain committed to further accelerating the ever-growing industry and economy of Bengal. With this fully mechanized facility, we aim to set a higher benchmark in port operations and environmental practices. This terminal, alongside our existing ports and terminals along the east coast of India, will synergize APSEZ’s services and enhance customer experience. Our leadership in integrated logistics will significantly enhance HBTL’s efficiency and benefit the shipping industry,” Karan Adani said in a statement.

Haldia Dock Complex caters to a large hinterland including West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, North-eastern Hill States and landlocked Nepal. This terminal will handle the supply chain of raw materials for the steel, power and cement plants located in the hinterland.

The main feature of the project is the ability to provide bulk cargo handling services, which would be completely mechanized, highly efficient, environment-friendly, and pollution-free.

The project will not only add efficient port capacity but will also help to reduce the logistics cost of port users by reducing the turnaround time of vessels calling at Haldia Dock, APSEZ said.

HBTL must achieve financial closure for the project within six months and commence the construction of the terminal, per the concession agreement signed by the two parties.

After mechanisation, the berth can accommodate Panamax vessels of up to 85,000 dead weight tonnes (DWT) and an average parcel size of 28,000 tonnes.

The planned mechanized berth is mainly designed to handle all types of imported coal. APSEZ has the flexibility to handle coke, limestone, iron ore pellets and other suitable dry bulk cargo also at the facility.

About 80 percent of the cargo to be handled at the proposed berth would be coking coal/non-coking coal, 10 percent limestone and other flux and the balance 10 percent would be other dry bulk cargo.

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