Cover Story

I am only playing the role of a catalyst

December 2016
- Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust

When Sanjay Bhatia took over the reins as Chairman of India´s veteran port, Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), he was a man on mission. Thanks to the support from his bosses at the Centre, and their plans under Sagarmala, MbPT is certainly experiencing a new lease of life, with major projects at the bidding stage. He shares more on his current role and the changes that he has wrought since assuming his post with RAHUL KAMAT.

Tell us about the immediate changes or value-additions you have brought to the table?
As I took over the reins of MbPT, my priority was cruise tourism. Here, MbPT reserved a dedicated berth for cruise and prepared new SOPs for various stakeholders. Owing to this, now, MbPT will receive 59 cruise ships, of which three have already arrived. I am also the chairman of Indian Ports Association (IPA) and we have appointed a consultant to prepare a nationwide action plan on cruise tourism. The consultant will submit a report in the next five months for new and existing coastal routes and inland waterways.

As MbPT is in possession of a huge land parcel, we have divided it into three parts considering operational capabilities. The first will take care of cargo and cruise operations. The second part of the land will be dedicated to an elite operation area, where we will take care of existing infrastructure like oil tanks from Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL). The third part of land utilisation will involve demolishing the depilated godowns and developing an iconic township that will comprise a central garden, convention centre, marina entertainment area, parking places, etc. We have already invited tenders for the appointment of an international consultant. We have received six bids, and with RFPs submitted, we should be finalising the consultant soon.

This apart, we are also focusing on upgrading hospital infrastructure through the PPP mode into a super-speciality hospital, which can take care of about 1 lakh patients. We will invite tenders in next three to four months. Further, another priority is the development of Sassoon Docks into a fishing tourism village with an initial cost of Rs 50 crore, for which we are going to conduct a design competition.

MbPT is also undertaking the construction of a fifth oil berth at Jawahar Dweep. How is the progress?
The Rs 800-crore Jawahar Dweep 5, or JD-5, will be one of the biggest oil berths in India. The berth will handle 22 million tonne oil capacity, which will help companies like BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) to transport oil into their refinery. We are also setting up India´s first Rs 50-crore bunkering terminal at Jawahar Dweep Island in collaboration with HPCL and BPCL.

Is MbPT considering a detailed estate management plan?
Yes, because although India has Land Management Guidelines, 2014, in place, the same are not applicable to ports, including Mumbai, Kolkata and Kandla. Here, my task is to prepare a draft land policy, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Shipping. The draft policy has considered areas such as renewal of existing leases, development of land, transparent management system, facelift of depilated docks, etc. As far as the transparency plan is concerned, we have prepared a 17-point agenda that will take care of tender systems, making them completely electronic, e-payment systems and fixing the responsibility of officials involved.

Did you face any initial challenges in your new role and how did you overcome them?
The challenges are still looming as the port is shifting direction. Although the port´s expertise lies in port operation, there was a dearth of experts in planning. For the past decade, the port´s performance had stagnated owing to its operational inefficiency and slashing down manpower from 35,000 to the 10,000 at present. Hence, the general impression of MbPT was a sinking ship, with no repairs done. However, we are all trying to reverse direction; I am only playing the role of a catalyst.

Recent news reports suggest the port will invest around Rs.225 crore to build a modern passenger terminal that can accommodate cruise ships...
We are setting up a new cruise terminal worth about Rs 250 crore with facilities like a fully-equipped domestic airport. Through this terminal, we will earn some revenue while leasing out space for commercial activities. We have appointed Planet3 as a consultant, who is preparing a DPR to be submitted in a month´s duration. Hopefully, by December-end we should be inviting tenders.

Also, what is the progress on the Eastern Seafront Water Transport System Project?
The Maharashtra Maritime Board, CIDCO and MbPT, will be involved in constructing separate terminals at Mandva; Mumbai ´Bhaucha Dhakka´ or a Ferry Wharf; and Nerul; respectively. For Mumbai ´Bhau Cha Dhakka´, MbPT has received necessary clearances and work has commenced. So we are on track, and should be able to deliver the marshalling yard and transport system component in the stipulated timeframe.