Kerala to float fresh global tender for Vizhinjam port

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 29 | Updated: Nov 30 2006, 07:34am hrs
Walking the tedious global tender path once again is the only option left for Rs 4,360-crore Vizhinjam deep-sea ICT (International Container Terminal). The Kerala government has abandoned its desperate lobbying for getting security clearance for the Chinese partners in the project.

Once Union shipping minister TR Baalu gives an official communication regarding the security blacklist, the state will go ahead with the re-tendering formalities. It is a slowdown, but there is not much option left now, Kerala ports minister M Vijayakumar said.

Last year China Harbour Engineering Co, China-based Kaidi Electric Co and Mumbai-based Zoom Developers had clinched the tender for Vizhinjam ICT. Although Kerala is not particular about these firms, doing the tendering drill all again is feared to retard the projects progress to a point of jeopardising its business potential.

While port expansion projects in Mumbai and Chennai were also threatened by the involvement of blacklisted Chinese companies, these ports had gone ahead with the existing tender, with slight modifications, by shaking off these controversial firms. However, for Vizhinjam port, the issue is that China Harbour Engineering companysaid to be building a port in Pakistanis the first partner. In expansion of other Indian ports, the unacceptable Chinese firms had been only the second or third partner.

Kerala had been pinning hopes on Chinese Premier Hu Jintao to voice protest at Indias security blacklisting of the Chinese company. When Hu Jintao restrained from any mention of blacklisted Chinese firms, Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan had said that he would go ahead with taking it up with PMO again, on Wednesday, during his New Delhi visit for Mullaperiyar dam talks with Tamil Nadu chief minister.

However, the state government is not going ahead in this direction, the minister said. By circumventing some earlier formalities, the state hopes to get the work underway within an year, he said.

Lying hardly 10 km from international shipping route, Vizhinjam can emerge a major feeder cargo terminal, competing with Singapore, Dubai and Colombo Port. A unique natural draft of 23-40 m makes it go completely easy on the recurring dredging costs. For Indian exporters, this would trim-down on their huge freight costs.