In a move that could give stiff competition to neighbouring Gujarat, Mumbai Port Trust’s Pir Pau Jetty has commissioned a new chemical berth to handle liquid chemicals. The new berth has doubled Pir Pau jetty’s capacity from 22 Lakh Tonne to a whopping 47 Lakh Tonne. Maharashtra’s only other jetty handling liquid chemicals which is located at JNPT, handles mere 1.5 Lakh Tonne parcel annually.
The second chemical berth at Pir Pau Jetty was inaugurated by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari this week. The new berth will bring down the waiting period of cargo ships substantially. It will also reduce the instances of diversion of cargo vessels to Gujarat port, thus reducing the cost of import for the importer companies.
“The total cost of the project is Rs 130 crore. There will be 22% annual returns on this Rs 130-crore investment,” Yashodhan Wanage, vice-chairperson of Mumbai Port Trust told The Sunday Guardian, explaining the profitability of the project. “Full commissioning of this berth will also result in substantial reduction of cost to the importers with faster turnaround of ships carrying bigger parcel size,” said Ravi Parmar, MbPT chairperson.
Pir Pau Jetty caters to mainly five companies — Aegis, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Tata Power, CTTL and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited. These companies import liquid chemicals like Monoethyl Glycol, Styrene Monomer, etc., predominantly from China, Korea and Taiwan. These chemicals are generally used in plastic industry. After the liquid chemicals are off-loaded at Pir Pau Jetty, they are transferred to the coast directly through pipelines. Some companies like Aegis then supply tankers of these liquid chemicals to various companies throughout the country.
Before the commissioning of the second chemical berth, there were two operational berths on Pir Pau Jetty. The first and the smallest pier was built in as early as 1922. Growing demand led to the commissioning of the First Chemical Berth in 1996, which had deeper draft and modern equipment. Now, the second Chemical Berth, which has a draft of 12.80 metres, is equipped with some of the most modern machinery.
“It has the latest technology and fire-fighting safety mechanism. The Quick Release Hook System will reduce the cast off time of the ships from 45 minutes each to five seconds each,” Wanage said.
The new chemical berth can handle large ships carrying as much as 55,000 DWT parcel. “In future, it can be upgraded to handle 65,000 DWT,” an official said.
The need for second berth Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the mega-infrastructure project touted to connect the satellite cities to Mumbai, was the reason behind the conception of the project. A few years ago, when MMRDA proposed the plan which is yet to be implemented, Mumbai Port Trust came up with this proposal. “We realised that when the MTHL comes up, our old chemical berth will become dysfunctional, as the bridge will pass from close-by. So we immediately came up with the proposal for building a new liquid chemical berth,” an official of MbPT told The Sunday Guardian.
Explaining the benefit of the additional berth, an official said, “Whenever bunching happened and many ships came together at the same time, they would have to wait as the first chemical berth had the capacity to accommodate only one ship at a time. Now, even if bunching happens, the waiting period will reduce substantially. Depending on the parcel size, parcel can generally be off-loaded within 24 hours. This will lead to mutual gain for the importers as well as us,” Yashodhan Wanage said.
An official said, “When there was only one berth, a lot of traffic used to get diverted to Gujarat for off-loading. This would increase the cost of the importers as the industry which requires these liquid chemicals is situated in Maharashtra. The importer would then have to transfer the liquid by road to Maharashtra. Now, all these things can be avoided. There is no need for diversion of the huge ships,” he said.