A new international cruise terminal with a capacity to handle 500 passengers at a time will be ready at the Mumbai Port by June 2019. The foundation stone for the terminal was laid by Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Thursday.
Built at an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore, it will replace the existing 40,000-square-feet terminal that currently handles about 55 ships carrying approximately 57,000 passengers between November and March. Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, MbPT, said the new terminal would be able to handle 200 ships and up to 7 lakh passengers every year. It will cover an area of 4.5 lakh square feet and remain operational throughout the year.
In a move aimed at de-congesting the city riddled with traffic gridlocks, the ministers also announced that within a few months, warehouses will be made operational at both MbPT and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and that trucks transporting cargo would move between the two ports through the sea instead of by road.
Cargo is currently transported from JNPT to warehouses in Bhiwandi where it is unloaded and then moved to Mumbai in trucks, covering a distance of more than 140 kilometres and causing vehicular congestion in Navi Mumbai and Thane. At present, 600 trucks head to Bhiwandi from JNPT while another 900 trucks transport cargo to Mumbai from Bhiwandi, via Thane.
“We will reduce traffic congestion on roads by starting an 8-km sea route. Trucks will be transported from JNPT to MbPT on barges and cargo stored in warehouses in the port,” said Bhatia. The handling capacity of the international cruise terminal is planned in line with estimates that Mumbai can host 700 ships and 3.2 million passengers by 2041. “The new terminal will be the size of the domestic airport terminal and have all the facilities,” said Bhatia.
On Thursday, the MbPT also signed an MoU with the Cochin Shipyard Limited to operate a dry dock at Mumbai Port where ships will be repaired. Bhatia added that between 140 and 200 ships would be repaired there annually.
Twenty two hectares of land at the Hughes Dry Dock will be refurbished at a cost of Rs 100 crore for the Cochin Shipyard to operate a repair facility.
Under the proposal, JNPT will operate a shallow berth allotted for barges headed to MbPT. In the short term, port authorities hope to take 200 trucks to a 24,000-square-metre warehouse in Sewri while another 5,000- square metre storage facility is also being readied in the next five months. The port trust’s long term plan is to divert 400 trucks a day into a 30,000- square-meter warehouse in Mumbai.