Vizhinjam, a port located near the Southern tip of India and close to the international shipping route is being developed into a major transshipment port. Once completed it is expected to attract annually over 10,000 ships that is half the number that pass through the Suez Canal. According to estimates much of the cargo that goes to Colombo, Singapore and Dubai is likely to pass through Vizhinjam, making it a mega foreign exchange earner for the country.
With a natural depth of 23 meters plans are underway to dredge the port toincrease the draft by another 6 meters thus making it capable to accommodate even the biggest ship in the world.
The state government of Kerala has set up a special purpose vehicle - Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) - with a mandate to attract private sector participation for the port's development and to set up the external infrastructure. This company which is responsible for setting up the $ 556 million project is being funded by a consortium of banks and financial institutions lead by the State Bank of Travancore (SBT).
The Kerala State Ports Minister V. Surendran Pillai said, “The project would be implemented by Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited under direct control of the government. Besides SBT, others including Dhanlaxmi Bank, South Indian Bank, Federal Bank, State Bank of India and other financial agencies would provide the loans.”
The State cabinet has also decided to give in-principle approval to set up a Special Economic Zone over 120 hectares currently being acquired and another 110 hectares being reclaimed. Multilateral institutions such as Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are on the radar, to raise the estimated at $ 355.6 million required for setting up the civil infrastructure, including the breakwater.
The superstructure for port operations and terminals would be built in the private-public partnership (PPP) mode. The Request for Qualification (RFQ) will be called today. This would be followed by the publication by the pre-qualification bids by Christmas. The final award of the project is scheduled for February 2011 after assessing the same for techno-feasibility and related parameters.
Requiring very little maintenance dredging, due to its sheltered location, the port would have two breakwaters of 1.5 km and 6 km with harbor basin and wharfs. In all, about 30 berths have been envisaged, capable of handling Mother Vessels. The handling capacity is targeted at 4.1 mi TEU/annum on the completion of the first stage of the project.
DP World’s International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam Island, is another major project in South India set to take off in a month’s time. It was earlier scheduled to have been commissioned in August this year but got delayed due to lengthy delays in completing dredging work. According to officials D. P. World’s transshipment hub is expected to reduce India’s dependence on foreign ports where the containers are presently get transshiped. Senior Vice President & Managing Director of D. P. World Sub Continent, Capt Anil Singh said, “Over two million TEUs containers of Indian cargo destined for Western India gets carried to Jebel Ali, Colombo and Salalah for handling transshipment. All this transshipment will begin to take place at ICTT once the terminal becomes operational in.”