Indian, overseas firms line up for Kerala port construction

Friday, 27 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 10 companies, both Indian and overseas, have expressed their interest in building a new port at Vizhinjam near Kovalam, Kerala Ports Minister M. V. Raghavan said Thursday.

The companies include the Indian arm of Denmark-based construction major Maersk, the Malta-based Hiley Group, Ashok Leyland Project Services, South African firm Hyson Cell Technologies, and the Indo-British Ports Consortium.

The Vizhinjam port, to be constructed under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, has also attracted Australia's AMP Group and a few more Indian companies.

"The last date for bidders to submit their expression of interest is March 15 and so far 10 of them have submitted and tomorrow we are taking these 10 people to the proposed site," Raghavan told mediapersons here.

"And the day after we are meeting with all of them." The final selection of the successful bidder is likely to be finalised by July.

"The port would be built in two phases. The first phase will cost 18 billion and will be completed in three years time. The second phase will cost 20 billion," said the minister.

Located near the tourist destination of Kovalam, Vizhinjam port is a gift of nature and has several advantages.

Currently large containers with goods to India dock at the ports of Colombo, Singapore and Dubai and then smaller vessels carry them to ports in India. "When Vizhinjam port is ready, there would be no need for trans-shipment," said Raghavan.

Reports indicate that it would be located on a four-km strip of land. About 700 acres of sea would be reclaimed and the port would have two breakwaters of 1.5 km and 6 km with harbour basin and wharfs.

The port is expected to create 3,000 direct and 16,000 indirect jobs. When the port is complete, a new railway line would be laid to carry the goods from the port.

Since the port would come up in the international shipping route, big passenger liners with tourists are also expected to dock here. Besides the new port would be of strategic importance as submarines and naval ships could also dock.

Despite close to 90 percent of the goods being moved through the sea, Kerala, with its 590 km of coastline, has just one major port at Kochi and three intermediate ports.

Source: IANS
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