Kerala’s stranded mega projects set to revive

September 11th, 2011 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 11 (IANS) Two stranded mega projects — the Rs. 5,348-crore Vizhinjam Port and the Rs. 1,200-crore Kannur international airport — appear to be on the roll again and may finally become a reality in the near future.

Veteran Congress leader and Kerala minister K. Babu, entrusted with overseeing both the projects, told IANS that they were high on the agenda of the Oommen Chandy government in the state and hoped he would be able to do justice.

“The technical bid for the Vizhinjam port of the will open anytime now,” Babu said. “It will be followed by the financial bid. Then comes the security clearance and, finally, the environmental clearance.”

Vizhinjam port, proposed near the famed tourist destination of Kovalam, has been hanging fire for more than a decade now and, for various reasons, this is the third successive government to have tried reviving the project.

This project almost became a reality in 2006, during Chandy’s first term as chief minister, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was supposed to lay the foundation stone. But plans got scuttled because the contracted firm did not get security clearance.

The State Bank of Travancore has already formed a consortium of banks to raise Rs. 2,500 crore, the initial funding required for the Vizhinjam project.

Babu expects to receive all necessary sanctions for the Kannur airport from the Centre by November 2011. “We plan to start work early next year and by 2013 the first flight should land at the Kannur airport,” Babu said.

A new company, the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), has already been registered and the Rs. 1,200-crore airport is to be built under a public-private initiative over 2,000 acres at Mattanur in the Kannur district.

Twenty-six percent of the KIAL shares will be held by the state government, 23 percent by state public sector units and two percent by Infrastructures Kerala Limited (INKEL). The remaining 49 percent would be open for private participation.

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