New Delhi– India’s leading container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) on Tuesday said it has signed an agreement with the State Bank of India and Development Bank of Singapore for $400 million funding to double its existing capacity to 9.85 million TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) annually.

“JNPT is the first major port in the country to have taken loans in dollars. This was possible because ports have a natural hedge in foreign currency earnings. The rate of the ECB loan is cheaper than Indian currency loan.

“The funding is the first of its kind for a major port and it opens up one more avenue for major and government ports to raise funds by accessing international markets for their requirements,” said Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, according to an official statement.

Reserve Bank of India approved JNPT for raising the fund with an end use of on-lending to Mumbai JNPT Port Road Company Limited (MJPRCL), a joint venture company of NHAI, JNPT and CIDCO, for implementation of the road project.

The project will be developed at a total estimated cost of Rs 2,895 crore.

With the thrust on port led development under the Sagarmala programme, improving viability of projects is critical. One of the primary factors that impacts viability is the interest rate on borrowings to fund projects, the statement said. (IANS)