The Cochin Port Joint Trade Union Forum has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take effective steps to revive the lost glory of Willingdon Island, which wore a deserted look after the shifting of container terminal operations to Vallarpadam.
The Forum requested the Prime Minister to evolve creative plans for the diversification and reconstruction of Willingdon Island, which used to be the hub of business in Kochi, to improve its business prospects, enhance the port’s revenue, and protect workers and their families through employment generation.
In a memorandum to the visiting Prime Minister, the Forum said the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam was established after around 1,500 workers sacrificed their job opportunities at the erstwhile Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal. There was hope that new opportunities would come through ICTT. But there is disappointment now, and Willingdon Island is like a desert with no active port operations despite its huge potential.
P.M. Mohammed Haneef and C.D. Nandakumar, chairman and general convenor of the Forum, also requested the Prime Minister to extend budgetary support for the expenses incurred by the Cochin Port for maintenance dredging, in view of the rising cost of the work.
Deepening the shipping channel through yearly maintenance works is expensive and has proven to be a great financial burden on the port. They pointed out that the port has to remove 300 lakh cubic metres of silt every year to maintain the depth of the shipping channel.
The port is spending around ₹200 crore per year on silt removal, and no port in India except Cochin Port is spending such a huge amount for this purpose. Further deepening of the channel would cause the expenses to soar, the leaders said.