Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) on the proposed Vizhinjam international port and container transhipment terminal project is expected to be completed by June 30.

The terms of reference were approved on July 1 last year. L&T Ramboll consortium and Asian Consulting Engineers have been carrying out the multi-season study.

TO BE PUBLISHED

Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL), the special purpose vehicle implementing the project, would proceed to publish the report on the Web site. Subsequently, it will approach the Union Government approval, sources in the State Government said.

Meanwhile, Aecom Ltd, Management Consultants, will work on the master plan and also prepare the tender for engineering, procurement and (EPC) contract. The Rs 3,040 crore-first phase of the project (after deducting Rs 970 crore being invested by the operator) would have a State Government equity exposure of Rs 1,130 crore. Sources also said that the issue of bonds of Rs 810 crore being floated by the state government has been credit-rated.

HUDCO EXPOSURE

It is learnt that Housing and Urban Development Corporation (Hudco) has given in-principle approval to provide Rs 500 crore.

Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and India Infrastructure Finance Corporation (IIFC) are being approached for a contribution of Rs 300 crore.

A consortium of banks led by State Bank of Travancore is raising an equal amount. The Vizhinjam project has a sole bidder in the consortium led by the Welspun group as operator.

The consortium had approached the State government for a grant of Rs 479 crore, subsequent to which it had conditionally agreed to reduce the grant amount.

BETTER BID

But there is a view that the government need not necessarily proceed with the single bid, and would be well within its rights to float a fresh bid post-EIA clearance. Work on the port infrastructure is on, and it would be another three years before the selected operator would be required to start building the port superstructure. This gives the State Government ample time to go for a fresh bid, and extract a much better quote since the project would have basic infrastructure in place. The EIA approval would be an added bonus, and the project would become an attractive proposition for any bidder looking for a natural deepwater port project on the country’s west coast.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 26, 2012)
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