Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard will be provided with berthing facilities at the proposed multi-thousand-crore international seaport at Vizhinjam.

The Navy will be provided a 500-metre-long berth and the Coast Guard 120 metre, K. Babu, Minister for ports, told the Kerala Assembly while replying to a calling attention motion.

COAST SHARING

Allied facilities too will be provided on a coast sharing basis. The State Government had already informed the Centre about it, the minister said.

The lone amphibious brigade of the Army is stationed here. Hence, the proposed port can be used for joint operations of the Army and Coast Guard.

The minister sought to clarify that this would not affect the commercial prospects of the port. The State Government proposed to seek concessions in Cabotage laws for the port.

About 98 per cent land required for the project had been acquired, he said.

PUBLIC HEARING

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board would conduct a public hearing for purposes of environment impact assessment of the project.

The draft report on the environmental impact assessment conducted by consultants International Financing Corporation (IFC) was submitted to the Government on March 15.

L&T Ramboll too had conducted a study earlier and submitted its report in December. The IFC effort comes in the wake of complaints raised by certain NGOs and other organisations.

Both will be integrated and submitted to the Pollution Control Board for public hearing, the minister said.

MASTER PLAN

Once the environmental clearance is cleared, the engineering-procurement-construction tender would be called for building port infrastructure. This would be followed by the exercise to select the port operator.

The master plan, detailed project report and socio-economic cost benefit analysis have been completed. It provides for development of a fish landing centre and a cruise terminal as well.

All these will be published as part of the environment impact assessment report.

Trial run on the drinking water project with three mld (million litres per day) is on. The project will be inaugurated on April 25.

PROJECT APPEAL

Drinking water supply lines will be extended to the public as part of the corporate social responsibility exercise, the minister said.

Meanwhile, experts are of the view that a naval berthing facility would only go to add to the project’s appeal when a fresh global tender is floated.

Defence interest in this manner would help expedite environmental clearance, which would be a major plus point.

Vizhinjam would add to the country’s military teeth in the South even as China ramps up presence in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Maldives, within an earshot from Thiruvananthapuram.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 2, 2013)
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