Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the first phase of the Rs 7,900-crore 4th terminal project of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to the nation, which will raise the cargo handling capacity of the nation's largest container port by 50 per cent.
The fourth terminal project seeks to double JNPT's capacity to nearly 10 million standard container units and will make it the 33rd biggest port globally.
In contrast, the global export powerhouse China already has 15 ports with over 20 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) capacity.
The nation's largest port JNPT has a capacity of 4.8 million standard container units capacity now and with this inauguration 2.4 million standard container units are added.
On completion of the second phase by 2022, which will also have a capacity of 2.4 million standard container units, total capacity will go up to almost 10 million.
Inaugurating the first phase of the fourth terminal of the JNPT, to be operated by the Singapore Ports, through a remote control, Modi, who also laid the foundation stone for the first phase of the Rs 16,700-core Navi Mumbai international airport here, said his government is focusing on port-led development.
"If we have to carve out a place for ourselves in a globalised world, we need to enhance our waterways," Modi said.
The Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) has invested Rs 4,719 crore in the first phase of terminal at Uran through its subsidiary Bharat Mumbai Container Terminal (BMCT).
The work on the terminal began in 2015.
The overall capacity of the first phase, which entails a 1-km-long berth mostly built on reclaimed land, can handle three ships simultaneously, is 2.4 million standard container units.
PSA Group chief executive Tan Chong Meng said the port is targeting to handle 500,000 TEUs in 2018 and then add further.
He said the JNPT, which awarded the fourth terminal to the PSA in May 2014 after long delays, has struggled with capacity till now due to which ports like Mundra in the private sector have been able to attract more traffic.
"Because of this capacity constraint, cargo movements have been sought to move to other places. Perhaps, not their first choice to do so. They would prefer to go through Mumbai as this city has a very big hinterland," Meng said.
Now that the capacity has been added, government will also be able to seek investments for the economy, he added and underlined the need to have the pricing power for operators.
"The first phase took a lot of energy, we learnt a lot," he said, without elaborating.
The project has been executed with the support of Singaporean banks, Meng said, adding that features like a longer berth and modern cranes which can handle larger ships, distinguish it from other terminals of JNPT located off the financial capital's eastern coastline.
Expressing reservations about the BMCT being seen as a "new kid on the block" despite adding 50 per cent to the capacity, he said there is a need for all the stakeholders to work together.
"BMCT is not built for its own sake, it is built for the sake of the whole port of Mumbai. If BMCT has a good reputation, the whole port of Mumbai will have a good reputation," he said.