The rejuvenated Cuddalore port is all set to become operational in the next three months once the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board finalizes the second stage of the tenders received from Port majors to Operate Maintain and Market the port on a revenue sharing model according to official sources. Indications are that the port would be handed over to PPP operator by June this year.
The sources said the first stage of the tenders Request for qualifications have been processed for the reconstructed port lying in disuse for nearly four decades. Cuddalore Port used to be a bustling anchorage port till the later part of the 20 th century but when that mode of cargo operations became outmoded, the port folded up its operations 35 years ago.
The port now has two dedicated berths capable of handling medium size vessels requiring a draft of six meters, constructed at a cost of Rs 135 crores. The Port can handle 3.5 million tons of cargo with an ultimate capacity of 5.68 million tons per annum. Breakwaters have been constructed on both northern and southern side of the entrance channel. The cost of the project implemented through EPC mode was shared by the Port and Shipping Ministry and the State Maritime Board under the Sagar Mala project.
The port has the additional advantage of possessing all the EXIM trade infrastructure including the ICEGATE of Customs, immigration and the port health by virtue of having served as anchorage port . The operator can start cargo handling from day one since the facility has received all the statutory clearances. Besides the port has offered One year moratorium to commence cargo handling taking into account the fact that the facility was in disuse for nearly 35 years.
It has the facility to handle coal as well as containers.
Cuddalore port, once it becomes operational will become part of the cluster of ports in central Tamil Nadu coast within a 100 kilometer radius from Puducherry in the North and Karaikal in the South. All the three ports have the industrial central Tamil Nadu as their hinterland. Puducherry port declared as a satellite port of Chennai has recently commenced container handling. Containers gets customs cleared at Puduchery port and move directly to the waiting ships at container terminals in Chennai port. The facility could be extended to Cuddalore port situated hardly 10 kilometres away. Coal handling could be another opportunity considering the port has direct rail connectivity to thermal plants in Mettur.