You can see Kerala's maritime initiatives brewing: In September last year, the cabinet approved a Maritime Board for the state, PPP bids are on, and the stage is now set for the state to see the projects through and to consolidate. Manoj Joshi tells us why the Vizhinjam port project sits on top of that pile.
India's port traffic has been growing at around 10 per cent during the recent years. It has been projected in a recent traffic study carried out by the Department of Shipping that the traffic to be handled by the Indian Ports in the year 2013-14 would be to the tune of 1,225 mt. With such projected traffic for the coming years, expansion of port capacity has assumed critical importance. Kerala is an important maritime state with 17 ports and a major port at Kochi. Government of Kerala recognises the vast potential of maritime activities in the coastal region and has accorded high priority to various initiatives for the development of maritime trade, traffic and security. Keeping in view of the fact that the development of the state is closely connected with the development of ports, we are now in the process of establishing a State Maritime Board, and the management of all the ports will be under the control of Board. This is a step forward to develop marine activities in an expedited fashion.
The government has initiated the development of coastal shipping as an alternate mode to traditional modes of transport. For this purpose, we are undertaking dredging of channels and development of facilities at three minor ports of Beypore, Kollam and Azhikkal:
1. Azhikkal port on PPP basis with an investment of nearly Rs 3,000 crore;
2. Ponnani Port on a PPP basis through the Swiss challenge method at an investment of Rs 672 crore;
3. Beypore port, which has an MoU with Lakshadweep Administration for dedicated wharf facilities to Lakshadweep traffic. Private partners are invited to invest in the remaining wharf, and berths developed by us will cost Rs 177 crore;
4. Alleppeyâ€”being developed as a marina and cargo harbour;
5. Thangassery port (Kollam), to be developed on PPP basis.
Vizhinjam International Port is a high priority project for Kerala. To be implemented in three phases, the project is expected to require a total investment of Rs 6,000 crore. It will be developed as a landlord port with the state government constructing the port infrastructure at a project cost of Rs 1,637 crore. In the first phaseâ€”port superstructure and operationsâ€”we have invited global bids for an investment of Rs 1,000 crore. Government of Kerala is investing Rs 1,000 crore to acquire the required land and develop the infrastructure and connectivity. The requirement of land for Vizhinjam project is estimated to be 330 hectare (ha), out of which acquisition for 120 ha is in progress and reclamation of 110 ha will be done in the first phase. Funding through multilateral agencies, banks and other sources, for investment in related port infrastructure including breakwater, landfill, etc is being sought.
The author is Secretary (Ports), Government of Kerala. In conversation with Shashidhar Nanjundaiah.
PPP for ports
With 17 intermediate and minor ports dotting the 590 km coastline, like for many other states, PPP has been only a much-spoken-about model for the southwestern state. It is only late last year that Ponnani and Azhikkal have called for bids for PPP. The more-publicised Vizhinjam port, near Thiruvananthapuram, has already attracted a bank consortium funding, led by State Bank of Travancore, of up to Rs 2,500 crore. As NRI investors line up to invest in various sectors, state policymakers are confident that PPP will be a successful model for port development and operation in Kerala.
Case Study: Water's better
An example of why sea-river connectivity and inland services are sometimes a rational solution was demonstrated by a choice that was made to transport pipes for single point mooring at Cochin, which transport petroleum to the on-shore Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) yard.
Logistical support for the Cochin Single Point Mooring (SPM) Project of BPCL was awarded to LOTS Shipping. The task was to transport 1,560 48″ diameter concrete coated pipes from Mundra in Gujarat to Cochin, store them in Cochin and provide the pipes to the offshore locations for the sub sea laying. Although the original plan was to haul the pipes by road, the company suggested a sea route and built a vessel exclusively for the purpose for BPCL. LOTS Shipping chartered a 25,000 DWT Shipâ€”MV Madre, which made three voyages to transport the pipes from Mundra to Cochin. LOTS built barges to transport the sea pipes to the offshore locations for laying. Lots International's vessels MV Malabar Shakti and DB Sealift were also used for the storage and transportation of PLEM, MONOBUOY, etc, to the SPM site.