The long felt need for a modern deep draft port on the western coast will be fulfilled with the development of a new major port at Vadhavan, at a total cost of Rs 65,544 crore.
By Mansukh Mandaviya
Seaports are gateways of international trade, and play a crucial role in a nation’s economy. Aiming for a sustained growth in India’s trade and commerce in consonance with the PM’s mantra of ‘ports for prosperity’, major initiatives are being taking by the ministry of shipping to promote ports sector in India.
Rs 100 lakh crore has been envisaged for infrastructure development investment over the next five years. The port sector is optimistic to witness a rapid growth, which will increase capacity substantially. Port and port-led industrialisation being two facets of the same coin, the ministry of shipping is following an approach focused on development of port infrastructure and capacity enhancement, and development of multi-modal hubs to promote EXIM trade by reducing logistics costs and time for cargo transportation.
Only two major ports, namely Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust (1989) and Ennore (Kamrajar) Port (1999), and nine minor ports by state governments have been developed in the last 30 years. While the ports in the country are able to handle the largest sea-going vessels/ships in the world for liquid cargo, including POL and bulk cargo, there is an inadequacy in India’s ability to handle and receive ever-increasing large containerised ships. This can be attributed to non-availability of deep draft ports. The two largest container ports of the country, JNPT and Mundra, have drafts of 15m and 16m, respectively, whereas the world’s largest container-handling modern deep draft ports required a draft of at least 18-20m. There is no scope of further expansion of JN Port. Moreover, JN Port’s containers-handling capacity will also peak at 10.1 M TEUs (mid-size container vessels).
The long felt need for a modern deep draft port on the western coast will be fulfilled with the development of a new major port at Vadhavan, at a total cost of Rs 65,544 crore. Vadhavan is located about 190 km north of JN port, and has a deep draft of about 20m close to shore, which makes it appropriate for handling bigger vessels. In fact, it is one of the best sites for a deep draft port on the entire west coast. The port site at Vadhavan has an 18m draft naturally available, and a 20m navigational channel also naturally available, obviating the need for any capital and maintenance dredging. Minimal need for maintenance drudging gives it a cost advantage over other neighbouring ports, including the JN Port.
Further, the development of the port will be ‘environment friendly’. It is being developed in a manner that 65 acres of mangroves around the port area are not harmed. ‘No land acquisition’ and ‘no displacement’ are noteworthy steps. More important, it will lead to vast development and total face-lift of the tribal belt area in the vicinity of the port.
Vadhavan Port has a significant potential to serve the vast hinterland with its huge cargo generating potential. Presently, 70% of the total container traffic volume is provided by this geographical area. The excellent road and rail connectivity, with linkage to a dedicated freight corridor, NH-8, Delhi-Mumbai Expressway & Railway, and their proximity to the port site will give a big boost to industrialisation and development.
The development of Vadhavan Port is going to be a game changer in times to come. The development is opening up a plethora of opportunities for India to become among the world’s top 10 countries where container ports are concerned. It is not only going to boost the industry but also going to create a lot of job opportunities in nearby areas, enhancing international trade substantially, and yielding enormous benefits of economy of scale. It is also envisaged that the demand-supply mismatch, i.e, the shortage of container handling capacity in the west coast ports, will also be satisfactorily addressed by 2025. No doubt, it is a giant step towards the Modi government’s vision of “port-led industrialisation”, and the concept will help India become a $5-trillion economy by 2025.
The writer is MoS (independent charge), ministry of shipping & MoS, chemical & fertilisers