Vizhinjam port project likely to get delayed further

June 19th, 2009 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, June 19 (IANS) Mumbai-based Zoom Developers, whose bid for the proposed Rs.53.48-billion port at Vizhinjam has been rejected, Friday said it would challenge the decision in court.
“The chief minister (V.S. Achuthanandan) and the port minister (M. Vijayakumar) have taken a negative stand towards us all through the past three years. We have no other option but to take the state government to the court again,” Zoom chief executive Anil Thampi said.

The company’s decision would lead to a protracted legal battle between the state government and the bidder, resulting in a further delay in the implementation of the project, officials said.

The company had approached the Supreme Court earlier this year challenging the state government’s decision to award the port contract to the Hyderabad-based Lanco Infrastructure.

Following a Supreme Court directive, the state government April 29 asked the bid evaluation committee to re-assess Zoom’s tender for the project.

However, the committee headed by Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan rejected the bid Thursday, saying it did not fetch the minimum points required to get qualified.

The awarding of the contract to Lanco had run into trouble after the Congress-led opposition alleged that Zoom was deliberately kept out, despite it offering to pay the government Rs.447 crore after 10 years of operations, as compared to Lanco, which offered Rs.115 crore.

The Vizhinjam port project is being developed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme and will be handed over to the state government after 30 years. It will be built over 150 acres with no displacement of local fishermen, officials said.

With the natural depth at 24 metres, one of the deepest in the world, the port needs no dredging. It will be located close to a busy international shipping route, and handle 4.1 million containers annually.

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