JNPT mulls buying three ports in Maharashtra

Mumbai: The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the country’s largest container port, is mulling to acquire three ports in Maharashtra, as it targets to more than double its profits.JNPT is also going ahead with its efforts to develop an offshore port at Wadhawan, north of the financial capital. Union Shipping and Ports Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the JNPT, which handles more than half of the overall container traffic, is looking to acquire Vijaydurg, Revas and Dighi ports.

It can be noted that of the three, only Dighi is an operational port while the other two are concessions held by corporations with little or no development on the ground. Gadkari said the Revas port, where the concession is held by Reliance Industries, is “in problem” and a solution will have to be found in co-ordination with the Maharashtra government.

The minister also said that the port is in talks to acquire Vijay Kalantri-promoted Dighi Port in Raigad district, which is facing financial trouble and has been undergoing resolution in insolvency courts. According to reports, the Dighi Port owes over Rs 1,600 crore to a consortium of banks led by the Bank of India.

While Gadkari did not elaborate on the Vijaydurg port buy, it can be noted that the port for which concession is held by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar promoted Jupiter Capital will act as the home port for the proposed mega refinery at Nanar, to be built by state-run oil marketing companies.

Asked if JNPT will be given budgetary support for the acquisitions, Gadkari said money is not an issue and the port, located off the financial capital, has enough reserves as it makes Rs 1,400 crore profits a year. Gadkari said there are “environmental and political” issues with regard to the greenfield Wadhawan port development but added that the ministry is still going ahead with it.

Meanwhile, JNPT’s acting chairman Neeraj Bansal said the port is targeting to more than double its profits to Rs 3,000 crore in the next seven years and will take it up to Rs 2,000 crore in the next three years. Without elaborating, he said a detailed plan has been prepared to achieve the profit growth.

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