More than two decades after it was conceived, Kerala's Vizhinjam port project to become reality
news Monday, July 20, 2015 - 05:30
It was a project envisaged more than two decades ago, and it looks like Kerala will finally get its Vizhinjam international seaport. Ending all speculation, the Kerala government has officially announced that the Vizhinjam project concession agreement will be signed with the Adani Group on August 17, 2015 and the ground breaking ceremony at the international port will be conducted on November 1. The announcement was made after officials from the Adani group met Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and other ministers. Gautam Adani's son Karan Adani lead the delegation and assured that the construction will be completed in two years, though the stipulated project completion period is four years. He also told the media that he was thankful to the state government and Shashi Tharoor for the confidence shown in the Adani group and helping the project papers get cleared at a priority basis. The Adani group has however requested that the last stretch of 32 acres of land that is yet to be acquired by the government from a hotel owner should be taken over before November 1. The government has assured the Adani group that the last bit if land will also be acquired before November 1. The project The proposed project is to develop an international deep water multipurpose seaport at Vizhinjam, about 16 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The estimated cost for building the port superstructure is Rs 6,000 crore and the port will operate for a period of forty years. The first phase of the project would cost Rs 7,525 crore. Of this, Adani Group would invest Rs 2,454 crore and the state Rs 4,253 crore. The first phase of the port is to come up near Kovalam beach and is expected to be completed in three phases, with the first phase to be ready by 2019. Last month, Vizhinjam seaport project became the first port project in the country to get Rs.800 crore viability gap funding from the central government. Once completed, ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent units) will be able to dock at the port. The proposed port, located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually. Controversy Earlier five companies, including a Korean and a Spanish firm, had evinced interest in partnering with the state government for the Vizhinjam project. But later on, only Essar Ports, Adani Ports and a consortium of SREI Infrastructure and OHL submitted Expression of Interest (EOI) for submitting tenders last month. However, when the other bidders failed to file the final bid, Adani Ports became the lone bidder. The project had faced hurdles with no company submitting final bid even after the last date for bidding ended by the end of February. This created huge controversy, the opposition alleging irregularities in the bidding process. A dream project of the state, the project has already suffered delay of over a decade, for want of bidders. However, the CPIM national leadership has been highly critical of Gautam Adani, even terming him a capitalist. After the final decision from the board of directors opposition had alleged that Vizhinjam project was virtually being gifted to the Adani group by Oommen Chandy government.