India’s Ministry of Shipping has received “at least” 10 EoIs (Expression of Interest) for the proposed ₹48,000 crore trans-shipment port project at Galathea Bay in Great Nicobar Island off the Bay of Bengal. And a “few more”, including international players, have reached out separately to the Ministry expressing their interest to participate in the bidding process when it opens, Sarbananda Sonowal, the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), told businessline.

“We have received over 10 EoIs for the Gibraltar Bay port, and a few more players and leading shipping liners, including international ones have reached out to us saying that they are interested in bidding for the project. So let’s see how this works out. As of now, the initial trends or interest levels are encouraging,” Sonowal said, during an exclusive interaction.

The EOI was released earlier this year in January.

Port officials aware of the developments said some of the names who have placed EoIs include Adani Ports and SEZ, JSW Infra, RVNL (Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd), Container Corporation, among others. On the international side, Dutch dredging major Royal Boskalis Westminister is said to be amongst those interested.

An EOI is not a formal order tender. It will determine the terms of engagement and orders are awarded later. Other documents that needs to be looked into are Request for Qualification, Request for Proposal and Draft Concession Agreement.

Reportedly the government would look at a PPP mode via the landlord model; or an hybrid annuity model could also be considered because of the high nature of investments.

The concessionaire could also be awarded a long term PPP concession and can make his own investments in infrastructure subject to minimum guaranteed traffic.

Strategic location

The Great Nicobar port is to be developed in four phases with a total capacity of 16 million tonnes of container cargo handling, per year.

In the first – to be commissioned under an initially announced timeline of 2028 – around 4 million tonne of cargo handling capacity is expected to come up at a proposed investment of ₹18,000 – 20,000 crore. Construction will include berths, storage areas, port colonies, among others.

The proposed container shipment hub, is supposed to be located strategically between Singapore and Colombo – two major trans-shipment ports on the international sea trade/shipping route.

The Great Nicobar port will act as a feeder port to these two; apart from itself being a trans-shipment port to shipments from Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Majority of India’s transshipped cargo is handled in ports outside of the country with Colombo port handling the majority of international transshipped cargo.

“Clearances are being worked on for the port,” Sonowal said.