Court gives Kerala clean chit for Vizhinjam port tender

July 3rd, 2008 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi (Kerala), July 3 (IANS) The Kerala High Court Thursday dismissed a petition filed against the Kerala government by a developer who lost the bid to build the Rs.53.48 billion port at Vizhinjam near the tourist destination of Kovalam. The government May 23 gave the nod for a consortium headed by Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Private Ltd, Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn. Bhd. and Lanco Infrastructure Limited to implement the project in two phases.

Mumbai-based Zoom Developers approached the high court against the government. On June 3, Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, hearing the Mumbai firm’s plea, stayed the project for two weeks and asked the state government’s high-level committee, which scrutinized the tenders for the project, to present the bid papers to the court.

The judge Thursday gave a lean chit to the government and dismissed Zoom Developers’ complaint.

Minister of Ports M. Vijayakumar told IANS that the only a final security clearance by the centre was required for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Kerala and the consortium.

“All the papers for the final security clearance are now with the centre. The moment we get that cleared, the MoU would be signed and we will invite the prime minister to lay the foundation stone for this mega project,” said Vijayakumar.

This is the second time that an attempt to build the Vizhinjam port is being undertaken. During the previous Oommen Chandy government (2004-06) a consortium of two Chinese and a Mumbai firm was selected through a global tender. The Mumbai firm, Zoom Developers, then led the consortium.

But the central government 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.

A major advantage of Vizhinjam port is that it needs no dredging. The natural depth is 24 meters, 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, once ready, would create 5,000 direct jobs and 150,000 indirect jobs.

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