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April 03, 2010

Goa port to build berths for foreign navies, cruises


03 April 2010

Separate berthing facilities for Indian Navy's aircraft carriers, foreign naval ships and a passenger cruise terminal for high end liners will be created by 2011 at Goa's only major port at Mormugao, a senior official said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters, Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) chairman Praveen Agarwal said the new facilities were being created at the port as part of a Rs.3,000-crore modernization drive.

'The (Indian) navy has asked us to build a berthing facility for handling aircraft carriers at the Vasco bay,' Agarwal said, adding that a special cruise terminal was also being constructed to encourage passenger cruise tourism.

The port at Mormugao is 40 km from here.

'Although running a passenger cruise terminal is not a very profitable proposition for the port per se, but it has enormous spinoffs for the state and people,' Agarwal said, adding that the terminal would be a shot in the arm for Goa's tourism industry.

The 20-odd passenger cruise ships that docked at the MPT facility in 2009-10, were parked near dusty coal dumps and iron ore loading facility, which is not a pleasant sight for high-spending tourists on a holiday.

'Handling cruise ship traffic is demanding. There are high-end passengers onboard who demand the best. A luxury cruise ship itself is generally spotless white in colour, so even a little coal dust can cause problems,' Agarwal said, adding that the new berth away from the coal and ore heaps would serve as a big draw for cruise tourism.

Agarwal said that nearly Rs.33 crore were also being spent on building a facility for foreign navies who arrive in submarines and large naval vessels to Goa on R&R (rest and recreation) visits.

'Goa is a preferred option for foreign navies who want to make R&R halts. According to navy regulations, they have to get their crew ashore every six months,' Agarwal said.

The official further said that R&R visits by navymen were a good source of money for businesses because of the quantum of money spend by sailors on their recreational trips.

The MPT handles nearly 35 percent of the country's iron ore export.