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Friday, Sep 20, 2002

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Navy objects to tall cranes at Vallarpadam — Ministry keen to get the project going

Sajeev Kumar V.

KOCHI, Sept. 19

IN view of the objections raised by the naval authorities to the erection of tall Super Post Panamax cranes at the proposed Vallarpadam transshipment terminal project, the Cochin Port Trust is optimistic of finding an amicable solution soon.

The objections were raised because the proposed cranes were to be positioned within the flight funnel of the naval airport.

The port Chairman, Dr Jacob Thomas, said that he along with the Shipping Minister, Mr Ved Prakash Goyal, had held two rounds of discussions with the Civil Aviation and Defence Ministries to get a clearance from the restrictions imposed by the Naval Airport in setting up 120-metre Super Post Panamax cranes at the Willingdon Island, which was absolutely essential for transshipment terminals. Since the project was of national importance, the Shipping Ministry promptly took up the matter and was trying to find a solution without affecting the operations of the Navy, while at the same time meeting all the requirements of the transshipment hub.

There were 100-metre high cranes already in existence at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal, contrary to the current restrictions, which imposed a height limit of 42 metres. Similar were the objections raised by the Navy in erecting tall cranes at Vallarpadam area also, Dr Thomas said.

``As the objections raised by the Navy could kill the much awaited Vallarpadam project, the port as well as the Ministry and personally Mr Goyal took immediate action to solve the issue'', the Chairman said and added that the third round of discussions, which would be held in New Delhi on Tuesday, would provide a final and amicable solution to the issue.

The Navy's main objection was to the use of 100-metre tall cranes that would come up within the flight funnel, the path of approach or take-off, posing a direct threat to aircraft flying in and out of the naval airport, especially night flying. The aviation norms stipulate a maximum permissible height of 45 metres. The Navy had maintained that they would give a clearance to the project only if the height of the crane was scaled down to the limits prescribed by the Airports Authority of India and the Director General of Civil Aviation.

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