10 things you need to know about Vizhinjam port being built by Modi man Adani

Image courtesy: thiruvananthapuramupdates.wordpress.com

Modi man Gautam Adani is all set to build the Rs 6,500 crore International Seaport at Vizhinjam, a natural port located 16 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the proposed port:

1. Vizhinjam is an all-weather port located on Southern tip of Indian Peninsula, just 10 nautical miles from the International Shipping Lane, making it capable of tapping the lion’s share of Indian transshipment cargo, now being largely handled by Colombo. So once the port is up, Indian exporters will not have to rely on foreign ports for trans-shipment of cargo. It is expected to save at least ? 1000 crores in expenditure annually

2.Vizhinjam port is endowed with a natural seawater depth of up to 24 m as close as one nautical mile from the seacoast. Due to this natural depth, Vizhinjam can attract the largest container vessels currently in operation and also the future mega container carriers.

3. Vizhinjam lies Central to the eastern and western coast lines of India and thus can cater to the needs of both west and east coast.

Image courtesy: bmtindia.org
Image courtesy: bmtindia.org

4. The project cost and maintenance cost will be minimum as the site needs minimal capital dredging. Availability of 20m contour within one nautical mile from the coast would facilitate flexibility of shipping operations.

5.The first stage would involve the construction of a breakwater stretching a length of 3,030 metres. Two mammoth container ships of 18,000 teu (twenty-foot equivalent units) would be able to anchor at the 800-metre-long berth to be built for transhipment vessels. The first stage will have birthing facilities not only for big container ships, but also for the Indian Navy and the Coastguard, besides a cruise terminal.

6. The total project expenditure is pegged at Rs 6,595 crores over three phases and is proposed to follow the landlord port model with a view to catering to passenger, container and other clean cargo. Phase I is estimated to cost Rs 3,040 crore. Adani Group would invest Rs 2,454 crore and has sought a grant of Rs 1,635 crore from state and central governments. The balance amount is proposed to be raised as Rs 1,130 crore equity from Government of Kerala and as debt through loans from banks/ institutions and through bonds.

7.The proposed port is a Green-field project, away from urban/city limits, and thus can be masterplanned and shaped by the developer as per his own efficient designs and needs into an efficient, modern and highly productive port.

8.No acquisition of land is needed for the port as it will come up in the land reclaimed from sea. Hence, there is very minimal rehabilitation and resettlement issues.

9.Vizhinjam has excellent connectivity to rail (10 Km), national highway (3 Km) and internationaol airport (15km).

10. Vizhinjam offers immense scope for tourism infrastructure development in future due to its proximity to international tourist destinations like Kovalam(3 km) and Poovar(15 km).

Image courtesy: wikimedia.org
Image courtesy: wikimedia.org

As is the case with most developmental projects in Kerala, Vizhinjam port project too was dogged by controvery before and after the finalisation of the lone bid submitted by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. Gautam Adani’s well-known proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi made him suspect in the eyes of both the Congress-led ruling dispensation and the CPM-led Opposition.

The CPM leaders wanted the Oommen Chandy Government to go for a re-tendering of the project, but the Government didn’t relent. With the Opposition training its guns on Adani and the State Government dithering, what clinched the deal in favour of Adani was an open threat held out by Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari that the project might be moved to Colachel in Tamil Nadu if the political differences in the state over awarding the project to the Adani Group was not resolved fast. That blunted the Opposition criticism and prompted the Kerala Government to give its nod for the bid submitted by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd.

Controversy stalks the project even after approving the bid in favour of Adani Group . The Opposition alleges that the deal is a complete sell-out. The Opposition says the Government has given land worth Rs 6,000 crore free to the Adani Group, but Chief Minister Oommen Chandy maintains that only a licence to use the land has been given to the implementing company.

The Opposition questioned the decision of the Government to award the contract for port operations to the Adani group for a period of 60 years when most other ports in the country had tied up with private operators only for 30 years. Also, the Government is yet to disclose whether the Vizhinjam port would revert to the State on completion of the 60 years, the Opposition says.

“Honestly, Kerala’s biggest bane is its petty politics. For some reason, there are noices against the project from the Left and others because Adani is seen as close to the Centre, but everything has been transparent in the process here. This is one the most crucial projects in the entire nation’s interest,” says Shashi Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram MP.

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