Mony K. Mathew

Kozhikode, Jan 12

The master plan for the development of Ponnani harbour in Kerala into a major all-weather cargo port has been submitted to the State Government by Malabar Ports Private Ltd., the Chennai-based consultant for the project.

A technical committee, headed by Calicut Port Officer, has already had a preliminary meeting with the consultants to evaluate the plan and more such meetings will be held in the coming days.

One of the issues that came up for discussion was whether there was any possibility of siltation within the port basin. Also, doubts were raised whether the development works would affect the existing fishing harbour in the vicinity.

When contacted, Capt. Hari A. Warrier, Calicut Port Officer, told Business Line that these and other issues would be dealt with at the subsequent meetings. Once finalised, the plan will be put up before the Government for administrative sanction to pave the way for implementation of the project through public-private participation (PPP).

The port is proposed to be developed in three phases at a total outlay of around Rs 2,000 crore in current estimates, with the first phase, slated to be completed in three years, costing Rs 763 crore.

Connectivity

According to the plan, the port will have both rail and road connectivity for the movement of cargo to hinterland destinations.

The rail connectivity over a length of 13 km is reckoned to cost Rs 101 crore. It will also require acquisition of around 100 acres of land.

The all-weather port is envisaged to handle vessels of about 50,000 DWT and once in operation, it is expected to speed up the all-round development of Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur districts as also prop up the Coimbatore-Palakkad industrial belt.

According to the Government order, the project is to be implemented on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis and the concession period for the private bidder will be 30 years after one year for project formulation and three years for construction. If the construction period exceeds three years, the extended period will be deducted from the concession period.

Private investor

The private investor will be identified through ‘Swiss Challenge Method' with the final criterion being the highest percentage of revenue that will be paid to the Government.

Under the method being employed, the proposer company will not able to participate in the tender process.

However, if the proposer company, in this case, Malabar Ports, accepts the terms of the best bidder, the project will be given to it for execution and commercial exploitation. If not, the best bidder will have to pay the fees to the proposer company and the project will be implemented by the former.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 13, 2010)
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