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SMP Port asked to prepare report on Nicobar hub

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KOLKATA : The Union shipping ministry has entrusted Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (SMP), KOLKATA, with the responsibility to prepare a detailed project report for a transhipment hub in Great Nicobar, raising hope that the new facility may be a great leap forward for the century-old port.

SMP has appointed AECOM to carry out the study, which is expected to file its findings by the end of this year. The DPR will establish the viability of the project.

Sources said the city-based port might be entrusted with the development and management of the Nicobar facility in the future. If this indeed happens, Great Nicobar may be the third port system of SMP after Haldia and Calcutta.

The international container transhipment terminal at Great Nicobar is part of the Modi government’s plan to bring down India’s dependence on overseas ports for international trade.

Major container shipping lines do not make enough direct calls to Indian ports that depend on feeder vessels to reach Singapore or Colombo transhipment hubs for sending cargo. The circuitous route adds to time and cost to Indian industry and makes them relatively uncompetitive in the export market.

Due to its geographic location and poor navigability of the riverine port, SMP does not get any direct call, compared to Visakhapatnam and Chennai which are connected by some shipping lines. Consequently, the new port would be of utmost importance to SMP.

“Container transhipment facility at Galathea Bay and regional waterway connectivity is going to be a game changer for future of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port,” Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said.

SMP Chairman Vinit Kumar said the port would bring down the cost of operation for users. “Now we depend on foreign ports. Once it is within the country, our requirements can be prioritised,” he said.

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