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Gujarat to embrace new tech for decongesting ports, reduce pollution


Gujarat could become a lighthouse for India's maritime states that are battling severe congestion at the ports. Inefficient evacuation systems at the ports is resulting in cargo piling in the warehouses or outside the ports, something which has been flagged by Dun & Bradstreet in their recent report "Indian Ports: Issues & Challenges"

Some of the state-run ports like Porbandar and Magdalla are expected to embrace a new short-haul evacuation technology patented by Chicago-based firm EagleRail Container Logistics to move containers and other cargo directly from the ship to docking areas. Importantly, dirty cargo like coal, which causes in huge amount of pollution, can also be handled in a much cleaner way using this system.

EagleRail and GMB signed an MoU for the project during Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit with an investment commitment of Rs 1,000 crore.

Talking to TOI, ERC chairman Mike Wychocki said, “The technology is an adaptation of overhead, suspended monorail for passenger movement. It was invented approximately some seven years ago due to a demand for a non-road and non-ground rail container movement solution to take containers in and out of the ports.”

GMB vice-chairman and CEO Mukesh Kumar told TOI: “We are seriously considering to install this system at all GMB ports. This will help in faster cargo evacuation, decongest the roads and reduce pollution.”

At present, the cargo from ships at anchorage is loaded on to the barges which again offloads it at the ports. From there, the cargo is again filled in trucks and taken to the designated areas.

The system could be more useful in ports such as Porbandar and Magadalla; the l atter because it handles huge volumes of dirty cargo like coal. Pollution outside Magdalla port due to piling of coal has been a major issue for years now.

“If dirty cargo like coal is handled through this system, it will help us create more infrastructure like cruise terminals which otherwise can’t be developed at such ports,” said a senior GMB officer.

According to Wychocki, the main benefit of this system is faster ship-turns and evacuation, increased stacking capacity with same space and reduced “dwell times” with more predictable scheduling of shipping lines and intermodal customers.”

Moreover, it helps decongest public roads by removing drayage trucks with more efficient. “The the broad-based socio-economic benefits are increased road safety for citizen drivers and pedestrians, and a 60% reduction in CO2 and particulate pollution to make the ports greener,” he said.