Kerala to open EPC bids for Vizhinjam Port by March

Rs 7,800-crore Vizhinjam Port to be the deepest post in the country

PTI | December 20, 2011



Kerala is planning to invite global EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) bids for the Rs 7,800-crore Vizhinjam Port by March and also expects to get the environment impact assessment (EIA) report by June, a top state government official has said.

"We hope to float global EPC tender for the Vizhinjam port project as early as March and also to get the EIA nod from the Union Environment Ministry by June-July," State PWD and Ports Secretary Manoj Joshi told PTI here.

The EIA is being conducted by a consortium of L&T-Ramboll and Asian Consulting Engineers. The EIA will assess the impact on marine life and ecology, among others.

Joshi also said Aecom, the global consultants for the EPC bids for the project, will reach the port site anytime from now. This inspection is crucial for floating global EPC tenders.

Joshi was here as part of a delegation led by the state PWD minister VK Ebrahim Kunju, which visited the metropolis to study concrete roads in the city

Kunju said, his government will convert the 25-km Seaport-Airport Road in Kochi into concrete and expressed hope that work could begin before the monsoons.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Ministry had given its green signal to the Australian firm- Leighton Engineering Holdings, a partner in the Welspun Infratech consortium, which was shortlisted as one of the operators of the Kerala government-owned Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport, thus crossing a major hurdle for the ambitious port project, which was first proposed in 2003.

The other successful bidder is a consortium, led by Mundra Ports & SEZ, which has also been cleared by the Defence Ministry. These two were declared successful bidders, after they qualified in their technical bids after 12 others, including a Shipping Corporation consortium backed out.

However, these two bidders are yet to secure no-objection certificates from the Union Home Ministry.

On appointing the port operator, Joshi said, it is expected soon and so is the security clearance for the project.

When asked about the funding issue with the Centre, as also the ownership structure, Joshi said, "We are not bothered about the major port tag. Our objective is to ensure that the port project is implemented at the earliest."

For a port to get the 'major port' status, majority ownership (51 per cent) has to be with the Centre, as per the Major Ports Act. But Kerala wants to control the proposed port near the state capital Thiruvananthapuram to be under its ownership and control.

However, Joshi added, they will take a call after understanding the plan allocation for the ports sector in the 12th Plan.

When asked about when the Rs 4,000-crore first phase will be completed, Joshi did not give an answer, saying it is too early, as many crucial permissions have to be in place and the civil work is yet to be started. Three-fourths of the first phase investment will be chipped in by Kerala, he added.

The project will be carried out in three phases.

According to the current plan, the state is planning to flag off the first container ship in 2015.

The Vizhinjam Port is planning to follow the landlord model, under which, dredging, reclamation and basic infrastructure like construction of break-water and the quay will be done by the a state-owned SPV Vizhinjam International Seaport set up in August, while port will be operated by a private party, who will build the terminal structure and also maintain it for the first 30 years.

When operational, Vizhinjam will be the deepest port in the country, dwarfing even the JNPT and Visakhapatnam. The port has a natural depth of up to 23 meter. It will have a capacity to load 2.8 million standard containers and 1.8 million tonne a year of other types of cargo, excluding containers, when it is fully operational.

 

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