Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 3 IANS | 2 years ago

The global tenders for Kerala's proposed Vizhinjam Port, near Kovalam, would be floated Wednesday - a day after the project got environmental clearance, a state minister announced.

"Never before has a tender been floated for any project the very next day that it got the clearance like in Kerala's long standing dream project - the Vizhinjam port," Ports Minister K. Babu told reporters here.

"The expert appraisal committee of the environment and forest ministry Tuesday has finally granted the clearance for the proposed Rs.5,000 crore first phase of the project. We expect the first phase to be completed in four years time," he said.

Babu said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will upload the tender for the engineering procurement construction and the request for qualification to select the port operator on the website of the Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

In the first phase, the state government has to bring in Rs.1600 crore for developing the infrastructure for the port operator who will bring the funds to build the mother port and operate it.

"Rs.800 crores will come way by floating bonds and another Rs.800 crore has already been committed by various funding agencies," said Babu.

The proposed port, to come up near the famed Kovalam beach and to be completed in three phases, has been in the drawing board of three previous governments.

"This is one port that will change the face of not only Kerala but also the country because once completed, the biggest (container) ship as of now with a capacity of 18,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), can berth here," said union minister and local MP Shashi Tharoor, who pushed the project in Delhi.

Colombo port would be this proposed port's biggest competitor, he added.

The Vizhinjam port site has a natural depth of 24 meters, one of the deepest in the world, and hence requires no dredging.

The proposed port, located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

(Posted on 04-12-2013)