In talks with the Manila-based International Container Terminal Services

Amit Mitra

Mumbai, July 18

Larsen & Toubro , which had tied up with Hutchison Port to jointly bid for the development of the Rs 1,200-crore offshore container terminal at Mumbai port, is understood to be looking for another foreign partner to replace the Hong Kong-based company.

This comes in the wake of Hutchison Port not yet getting security clearance from the Union Government to participate in the container terminal project.

L&T has initiated talks with the Manila-based International Container Terminal Services to join the consortium to replace Hutchison. This has brightened hopes that the already-delayed bidding process may enter the final leg.

Meanwhile, Mumbai port has once again extended the deadline for submission of bids for the container terminal to July 31, owing to the Government's inability to take a final decision on whether or not to give security clearance to Hutchison Port to participate in the tender.

Port sources, however, reiterated that this would be the last time that the deadline is being extended. In fact, L&T's move to part ways with Hutchison may help the port in wrapping up the bidding process without further extension of the deadline, sources said.

The last date for submission was originally fixed for November 2, 2005, but since then it was extended nine times due to the Hutchison issue. The security issue cropped up due to the port's proximity to key naval installations in the neighbourhood.

Even while the container terminal project is being plagued by delay, the Mumbai port has decided to develop a terminal for handling dry bulk cargoes, which forms the mainstay of its cargo traffic. The port came out with a tender last week, inviting bids from Indian and foreign port operators to develop the terminal at its Indira Dock, the last date for submission of bids having been fixed for September 19.

The terminal will be developed on two existing berths at the Indira Dock, with the successful bidder required to invest a minimum of Rs 35 crore for installation of the necessary cargo handling equipment. Mumbai port has fixed a minimum guaranteed throughput of 6.60 lakh tonnes (lt) in the second year of operation of the proposed bulk terminal, 8.78 lt in the sixth year and 12.86 lt in the tenth year.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 19, 2006)
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