Kerala

Vizhinjam port project; none of the bidders turned up, planning to extend the tender by a month

BL21_SHIP_1462831fThiruvananthapuram: Vizhinjam port project, Kerala’s dream project is likely to get dragged on for some more time as it received a serious setback on Friday when none of the three bidders in the fray turned up.

As per the earlier announced plan, Friday was to be the last day of the auction and the state government had planned to award the contract to the winner on the same day.

‘It’s strange that none have turned up and we will look into what has happened. We have now decided to extend the tender by a month,’ said State Ports Minister K. Babu to reporters here.

The Rs.4,000 crore first phase of the project created history of sorts early this month, when it became the first port project in the country to get a Rs.800 crore approval for viability gap funding from the Centre.

Three companies, including Essar, Adani Ports and a consortium of SREI and Spanish firm OHL had passed the initial muster for becoming eligible to take part in the auction.

Twenty percent of the cost of the project would be borne by the state government and with the Centre also chipping in, the rest would have to be brought in by the firm that wins the bid.

All the required clearances for this mega project, which has been hanging in the balance for close to two decades, were obtained.

The proposed port is to come up near the famed Kovalam beach and is expected to be completed in three phases, with the first phase to be ready in 2019.

Once completed, ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) could dock here.

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

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

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