India looks to complete and operationalise its proposed ₹66,000 crore container port project, at Vadhavan — off Mumbai, by 2040; even as it awaits required environmental clearances and has seen a revision of plans.

The proposed deep draft port in Maharashtra is expected to have a container handling capacity of more than 23 million TEUs (twenty equivalent units) by 2040, thereby placing India on the global map of top 10 container ports, said an official of the Ports and Shipping Ministry. 

The project reportedly has seen a shift in plan with JNPA (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority) re-proposing to carry out construction at an on-shore site, as against the previous off-shore site which would have required larger reclamation of land, said sources aware of the developments.

Other activities

“Development of Vadhavan Port having cargo handling capacity of about 300 million tonne per annum (mtpa) is in the pipeline. As of now, the environment clearance is being processed. Only thereafter will the remaining activities commence (such as floating EoIs, RPFs, etc),” an official told businessline.

According to Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, special purpose vehicle (SPV) has been formed, with JNPA and Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) as its members, for implementing the Vadhavan Port project.

“This SPV will invest about ₹16,140 crore for development of basic infrastructure such as breakwater reclamation, rail and road connectivity linkages, power, water lines, common utility etc. Terminal operation & Cargo handling infrastructure to be developed through PPP mode,” he told the Parliament in a written response.

Mega Ports

The JNPA is the country’s second busiest State-owned container port and has five container handling facilities with a capacity to handle 7.6 million TEUs per annum. It handled 6.05 million TEUs in FY23, up 6 per cent y-o-y.

The long term plan, Sonowal said, is to develop Vadhavan-JNPA Cluster, Paradip Port and Deendayal Port as “Mega Ports” with capacity to handle more than 300 mtpa of cargo (preferably by 2030).

Mega ports include availability of deep draft for handling larger ships, effective hinterland connectivity to facilitate faster evacuation of cargo and land availability to create a sustainable industrial ecosystem.

The works for infrastructure enhancement and capacity augmentation in Paradip Port and Deendayal Port “are already under progress through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode and also internal resources”.