After having established his group as the largest private port (Mundra Port and SEZ Ltd) on the west coast of India, Gautam Adani, chairman, Adani group, is on the verge of setting up a very large all-weather, deep-water port (possibly the largest private port) on the eastern coast of the country as well.
If all goes well, the final clearances from the Orissa state government should be with the group by the end of this month.
The port may be called the Adani-Kalinga Port.
The group has been nurturing a desire to have a port on the eastern coast in addition to the existing one on the western coast. It will help consolidate this group’s position in the port and shipping business in India.
Moreover, any group that owns major ports on both the western and eastern coasts of India could be expected to play a major role in coastal shipping as well, for ferrying goods from one coast to another, thus reducing costs, time and the incidence of pilferage that plagues road transportation.
As for Railways, freight linkages between the east and west coasts are still in the planning stages, and are definitely likely to be more expensive than the coastal shipping route.
The proposed outlay is around Rs 10,000 crore. According to current plans, this port is to have 16 berths, and will have a capacity of 100 million tonnes —- almost similar to the capacity planned for Mundra.
It must be stated, though, that Mundra’s own capacities are being expanded and should go beyond 100 million tonnes soon.
This is because almost 30 million tonnes will be accounted by coal import alone, largely to service the coal needs of Mundra power plant set up by Adani and the ultra-mega power plant being set up by the Tatas.
The interest of the Adani group has been confirmed by Satyabrat Sahu, transport and commerce secretary of Orissa, who is on record stating, “The Adani Group has given this proposal to set up a port. The state government is examining the proposal.”
Recently, both Rajesh Adani, brother of group chairman Gautam Adani, and Rajeev Sinha, executive director Mundra Port called on the Orissa chief minister at the state secretariat.
According to senior people in both the Adani group as well as the Orissa government, the process of examination is almost complete, and two of three approvals required have been obtained.
The last one should be in hand in a few days.
Adani officials said the port could be developed in two phases near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, barely three km from Jatadhari Muhan, where Posco India plans to set up its own captive port.
The group plans to invest Rs 5,000 crore in each of the two phases. If all goes well, 12 of the 16 berths should be up and running by 2015-16.
According to current plans, the port will handle coal, iron ore, liquid and containerised cargo. It may be mentioned that the Adani group owns several coal mines in Indonesia. Some of this coal is already being imported into India through the Mundra port.
Similarly, the Adani-Kalinga port could be the entry point for coal imports on the eastern coast as well, to feed many of the power plans that are expected to come up south of the proposed Adani-Kalinga port.
Similarly, since the Adani group has already become India’s largest player in the edible oil market through Adani-Wilmar Ltd, and owns oil plantations in Malaysia, this port could also play a significant part in edible oil imports.
The Adanis have also shown an interest in mining projects.
What is not known at this stage is the amount of land that will be available to the port, since a successful port must have good draft (depth), lots of land for storing goods meant to be shipped, and for evacuation of cargo that arrives at the port and transportation linkages to the hinterland.
Unfortunately, the east and northeast regions have the poorest railway linkages.
Since the Adani group has offered to the state government that it will be willing to invest in road and railways networks in and around the port, such a move could help in the overall economic growth of the state itself.
Such efforts could be further buttressed by hectic lobbying by both the Posco management and the owners of Dhamra Port (jointly owned by Larsen & Toubro and the Tata Group) for improving rail and road linkages on the eastern coast in India.
As was the case with the Mundra Port, the Adani group also plans to invest in power projects near this port as well.