After a delay of nearly two years, Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T)'s much-awaited container terminal project at Kattupalli, on the north of Chennai, is set to go on stream from next month.
The project has been set up with an investment of around Rs 2,000 crore.
The first vessel — Thailand Chennai Express Service, a consortium of NYK and X-Feeders — would call on September 19. The port rotation of this service will be Laem Chabang – Singapore – Port Klang – Kattupalli – Chennai – Port Klang – Singapore – Laem Chabang. Port sources said every seventh day a vessel would be calling at the port.
While welcoming the new development, industry experts said the project would move out some of the container traffic from Chennai port. “We will not be surprised if 10 per cent of the containers move to Kattupalli immediately from Chennai.”
One of the major advantages, they said, would be free movement of containers. Due to congestion at Chennai port, export boxes take 1.5 to 3 days to reach the terminal, and since Kattupalli is located outside the perimeter of the city, the traffic would come down drastically and it could save a day or two for the exporters leading to price reduction, the sources said.
Chennai port currently has two terminals, one run by DP World and other by PSA International. Both the terminals can handle up to two million TEUs a year, but are operating below their actual capacity. Both the terminals collectively handle 120,000-130,000 TEUs a month.
Kattupalli can handle up to 400,000 containers per annum and can touch half a million capacity with a single berth. The terminal will be operated and maintained by Manila-based port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc.
The three-berth container terminal is part of L&T's around Rs 4,000 crore port-cum-ship building project comprising a minor port and building specialised ship along with a repair unit. It is being jointly set by by L&T and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (Tidco) in two phases on 1,200 acre at Kattupalli, 35-40 km from Chennai, through L&T Shipbuilding Limited.