Navayuga Engineering Company Limited (NECL), which has been inducted as lead promoter of the Machilipatnam Port project, will initiate a survey of the location shortly to prepare a master plan before going in for concrete plans like financial closure.
The company is keen to promote Machilipatnam port in Krishna district on the east coast as the closest port destination to central India. Import of fertiliser and coal and export of rice will be the mainstay of the port.
Speaking to Business Standard, a senior official of Krishnapatnam Port Limited, the greenfield sea port developed by NECL, said Machilipatnam, by virtue of its location, looked ideal for having a container terminal. A container transit hub, like Colombo or Singapore, could be developed gradually, he said.
The company would invest Rs 1,590 crore in the project in phases. Men and machinery from Krishnapatnam port will be moved to Machilipatnam for developing the port. However, the port, which last saw a ship in the early 80s, will not be a destination for big ships as it will not have a draft, he said.
NECL also has plans to revive the rail link to Machilipatnam port as it will come handy in connecting Nagpur and Bhopal and other places without touching the main line at Vijayawada.
Initially, Gogileru, also close to Machilipatnam, was identified as the location for the development of the port. However, the locals demanded the government to develop the port at Gilakaladinne.
Maytas Infra, the lead developer for the project before NECL, had asked the state government to compensate for the change in location from Gogileru to Gilakaladinne as the latter required more silting and dredging. The government in the request for proposal projected 6,262 acre land — to be given on lease —for the development of the port. The concession period is 30 years, extendable by 20 years.
Originally, Machilipatnam Port Limited (MPL), the special purpose company formed to implement the project, had Maytas Infra as lead promoter with other members being Nagarjuna Construction Company Limited (NCCL), Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited and Sarat Chatterjee and Company.
In August 2009, MPL wrote to the government that NCCL had been authorised to identify a lead and strategic promoter after other members Srei Infrastructure and Sarat Chatterjee exited while Maytas expressed its inability to go ahead with the project due to severe financial crunch.
The companies that have exited requested the government to approve the transfer of their shares to NECL along with NCCL, which will hold not less than 26 per cent in the project. A revised concession agreement will be signed with MPL amending the clauses relating to the shareholding pattern in the existing one.