In a bid to counter China-Pakistan’s Gwadar port project, Narendra Modi-led government has granted business tycoon Gautam Adani Rs 16 billion funding to help the new port at Vizhinjam. Located at India’s Southern tip, this port will win business from hubs in Asia. “Once Vizhinjam, in the state of Kerala, is operational the government will start building the port of Enayam in Tamil Nadu”, said a senior shipping ministry official. India’s 7,500-km (4,700-mile) coastline juts into one of the world’s main shipping routes and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to capitalise on that proximity by developing ports that can shift freight on to huge vessels capable of carrying up to 18,000 20-foot containers.
By bringing onshore cargo handling now done at entrepots in Sri Lanka, Dubai and Singapore, Modi’s government expects cargo traffic at its ports to jump by two-thirds by 2021 as India ramps up exports of goods including cars and other machinery. The lack of an Indian domestic transshipment port forces inbound and outbound containers to take a detour to one of those regional hubs before heading to their final destination. Here are five things about the project:
1) The Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is an ambitious project designed primarily to cater container transhipment besides multi-purpose and break bulk cargo.
2) Advantages of Vizhinjam are:
- Availability of 20m contour within one nautical mile from the coast.
- Minimal littoral drift along the coast, hardly any maintenance dredging required.
- Links to national/regional road, rail network
- Flexibility in design and expansion being a Greenfield project
- Proximity to International shipping route
3) Adani wants the Vizhinjam port to be operational in 2018. The port lies hard by the Gulf-to-Malacca shipping lane that carries almost a third of world sea freight. “The port can attract a large share of the container transshipment traffic destined for, or originating from, India which is now being diverted primarily through Colombo, Singapore and Dubai,” said an Adani Group executive.
4) China had also wanted to partner with an Indian company to build the Vizhinjam port, but its proposal was rejected by the government on grounds of national security. India has not banned Chinese firms from investing in its ports, but takes a cautious approach as most ports are also used for “strategic purposes”, said the shipping ministry source.
5) Vizhinjam port will have dedicated berths for India’s navy and coastguard, according to a government note seen by Reuters.
This is how Vizhinjam port will support India’s economic growth
But analysts remain sceptical that India can complete the transshipment ports, given that it has taken a quarter of a century to get the Vizhinjam port plan this far after legal disputes and lack of security clearance from the federal government delayed previous attempts to build it.
(With inputs from Reuters )