PLANS to develop a new deep water iron ore port at Krishnapatnam on India’s east coast took a step forward in August. Technical and financial consultants have been appointed to develop the port and a 130 km rail link to serve it. Intended to handle ships up to 200000 dwt, the new port is expected to relieve the facilities at Ennore and eliminate the shipping of iron ore through Chennai.

The rail connection is to be developed by Krishnapatnam Rail Road Corp, a special purpose vehicle. The Andhra Pradesh state government holds a 13% stake; other partners include Indian Railways, the port company and private investors. Costed at between Rs3bn and Rs3·5bn, the link would run westwards from the coast to join the Chennai - Guntakal line near Cuddapah, avoiding the busy junction at Renigunta. It would cut the rail distance from the mines in the Hospet-Bellary district by around 120 km compared to the existing route to Chennai and Ennore.

Rites has been appointed to conduct feasibility studies for the rail link, whilst Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services has been appointed project manager and lead advisor for the whole project. Prequalification bids for construction of the port have been invited, and financial close is expected in December. Construction of the port and rail link is expected to be completed within 21/2 years. n