In this series of interviews with prominent civil engineers, JANAKI KRISHNAMOORTHI speaks to Sunilkumar Madabhavi, Chief Engineer, Chennai Port Trust.
While becoming a civil engineer was a dream he nurtured from his teenage years, the career in the port sector was purely accidental. Nonetheless, a pleasant coincidence, says 52 year-old Sunilkumar Madabhavi, Chief Engineer, Chennai Port Trust, "I enjoy it as you get to work on the entire gamut of civil engineering - from buildings, bridges, roads, drainage systems to various marine structures. Building marine structures in difficult and shifting marine conditions is very challenging. "
Barring an initial three year stint with a private construction firm, Madabhavi has spent his entire career spanning 27 years in the port sector, with three major ports - Mumbai Port, New Mangalore Port and Chennai Port. Having climbed up the ladder from Assistant Executive Engineer to Chief Engineer, his responsibilities varied from the appraisal of project structuring and analysis, preparation of feasibility reports, engineering details, tariff models, drafting of technical specifications, budgeting for various port projects to implementing and monitoring them. His project portfolio ranges from constructing container terminals, deep draught berths, oil berths, jetties, wharfs to operational buildings, and infrastructure facilities like road and rail links.
While Mumbai Port Trust, being an old port, had limited development plans during his tenure, it was at New Mangalore Port that he had the opportunity to plan, develop and construct several port structures to achieve a capacity addition to the extent of 40 MT. Here, he was involved in the execution of significant projects including the iron ore terminal, coal handling terminal, deep draught berths, oil berths, planning and modernisation of railway facilities. He was also associated with the study for setting up a single point mooring for Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals off the coast of the port, for handling large crude carriers for their refinery.
Now as Chief Engineer at Chennai Port, his responsibilities are equally diversified and demanding. With eight major ongoing projects, no doubt he has his hands full. "The projects and the challenges that go with it will be addressed by me and my team of engineers effectively," avers Madabhavi. Read more about these projects, his experience and views on port engineering as he shares them with CW:
Tasks at Chennai Port
My major responsibility here is to ensure that the port's capacity is enhanced at a fast pace through the implementation of new projects and modernisation of handling and storage systems. We have nine major ongoing projects now including a mega container terminal, Ro-Ro cum multipurpose berth and multi-level car parking facilities, a marine highway connecting Chennai, Ennore and other ports in Tamil Nadu and the modernisation of port equipment. All of them except the marine highway are being executed under PPP mode. The most challenging one, according to me, will be the modernisation of port equipment - supply, maintenance and operations of harbour mobile cranes and other cargo handling equipment. We will be going for large scale mechanisation replacing the old conventional equipment and systems.
An engineer's task in the maritime sector is a continuous one entailing timely and precise decisions in a dynamic situation with increasing vessel sizes, modernised equipment, changing systems in loading or unloading, etc. An engineer's ability to handle them will depend on his knowledge and experience. Hence, he has to keep in touch with changing technology, methods and latest developments in the industry. At Chennai Port, regular training is imparted to engineers for upgrading their knowledge both in-house and through foreign participation.
A port engineer must also be a multitasker to manage varied responsibilities that range from designing, planning, building marine structures to handling port operations. In addition, there are environmental parameters he should be aware of as they have become an important element in all types of port development and operation.
Several initiatives have already been set in motion in many ports for the implementation of the green concept. Providing efficient methods for handling bulk cargo and liquid cargo is a vital aspect of going green. All other cargoes defined as break bulk cargo and containers are eco-friendly and do not cause any pollution except noise pollution. The noise levels in the operational area can be contained through efficient operational procedures. Major ports are implementing technologically advanced handling systems. With investment from the private sector, the port sector is definitely marching towards the implementation of the green port concept.
Sunilkumar Vishnu Madabhavi
1983: BE (Civil) from Karnataka University
2005: M Tech (Marine Structures) from National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, Karnataka
Project: Construction of Multi-Purpose Berth
Location: New Mangalore Port
Project cost: Rs 44 crore
Client: New Mangalore Port Trust
Project features: The construction of marine jetty for vessel size 1.25 lakh DWT (Dead Weight Tonnage) and to install cranes up to 30 m span. Construction of diaphragm wall of 600 m length with two bends anchored with rock anchor. The design of the diaphragm wall and the rock anchors were the interesting features of the project.
Challenges: The construction of diaphragm wall and installation of rock anchors was challenging. Since the anchor was the only stabilising factor for the huge wall, it had to be installed properly and required constant supervision. The testing of the rock anchor was also very challenging. Despite the challenges, the project was completed within the scheduled time and the port was able to recover the capital cost within two years.
Project: Bulk Cargo Handling Terminal
Location: New Mangalore Port
Project cost: Rs 230 crore
Client: New Mangalore Port Trust
Implementing agency: Udupi Power Corporation
EPC contractor: Lanco Group
Project features: The Construction of bulk coal handling for vessel size of 65,000-85,000 DWT with mechanised coal unloading facility and loading facility by æmove on' wagon system. The project consists of the planning and construction of coal storage yard conveyor system and æmove-on' loading of railway wagons.
Challenges: It was planned in a land locked space with a minimum area for handling of coal including construction of curved railway track for dispatch and receipt lines. The method of 'move-on' loading system, where coal loading is done into moving railway wagons, was introduced for the first time in the port loading stations in India. (This system has been in practice at coal collieries in India). Construction of railway track in an operating port was a major challenge too as the work had to be carried out without interfering with the port operation.
Major ongoing projects at Chennai Port