Achuthanandan hoping centre, Tamil Nadu won’t oppose Vizhinjam port

May 23rd, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by admin  

Thiruvananthapuram, May 23 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Friday expressed hope that neither the centre nor Tamil Nadu will stand against the proposed Rs.53.48 billion port at Vizhinjam near here. “The (state) cabinet today cleared the project and will send it to the centre for clearance. See, this is one project that has been in the pipeline for several years and during the previous Congress government’s time, everything was ready but the centre did not clear it due to security reasons. This time we do not see any such issues,” Achuthanandan told reporters.

This is the second time that an attempt to build the Vizhinjam port is being undertaken. During the previous Oommen Chandy government (2004-06), after selecting a consortium of two Chinese and a Mumbai firm through a global tender, the central government had at the last moment decided not to give its sanction citing security reasons.

The central government decided against giving security clearance as the Chinese companies had business interests in ports in Pakistan.

The Tamil Nadu government is also trying to see that a world class port is set up at Colachel that, by the sea route, is quite close Vizhinjam and fears have been raised from several quarters in Kerala that the centre will clear Colachel first.

Achuthanandan said the implementation of the Vizhinjam project is structured in a public private partnership format on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis in which the state government would have a 24 percent stake.

The port will be built by a consortium led by Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Private Ltd. The other members of the group include Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn. Bhd. and Lanco Infrastructure Limited.

“The first phase of the project would be completed within three years from the start of the work and the consortium can start recovering their investment from then on. After 30 years the company will hand the port to the Kerala government,” said Achuthanandan.

A major advantage of Vizhinjam port is that it needs no dredging. The natural depth is 24 metres, one of the deepest in the world.

Another advantage is that the proposed port lies very close to a busy international shipping route. It is to be built on an area of 150 acres and there will be no displacement of local fishermen. The port will be able to handle 4.10 million containers annually.

“The port when ready would create 5,000 direct jobs and 150,000 indirect jobs. We are confident that the centre will do the needful,” said Achuthanandan.

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