The Environment Ministry has cleared the ₹76,000 crore-odd Vadhavan deep-sea port project, off Mumbai. The project will soon be placed for Cabinet approval, Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, told businessline.

According to Sonowal, the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearances were received on February 15.

The expert appraisal committee of the Environment Ministry had previously recommended environmental and coastal regulatory zone clearances for the mega-port project.

“Environment include the CRZ clearances, apart from other approvals have been received. The coastal regulatory zone clearance came-in on Thursday. We will now take it to the Cabinet for approval. The Cabinet will decide whether the project will get a green signal in entirety or in a phase-wise manner,” he said.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave ‘in-principle’ approval to set up the port near Dahanu in Palghar district in Maharashtra.

After running into initial opposition by farmers, fishermen and local, the project details were reworked that pushed up the total cost to over ₹76,000 crore, from the previous estimated ₹66,000 crore.

Vadhavan port will be developed on a “landlord model”. 

SPV in-place

Reportedly, the Vadhavan Port Project Ltd - a special purpose vehicle (SPV) between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) - conducted 26 surveys and studies through agencies in India about various environmental aspects and impact of this port.

Vadhavan will be constructed by the joint venture in which JNPA will have 74 per cent stake and MMB at 26 per cent. Vadhavan port has a natural draft of 20 metres depth at a distance of 5 km.

To be built in phases, the port will handle 15 million TEU (twenty equivalent unit) containers in the first phase and 23.2 million TEUs after the commissioning of its second phase.

According to the Minister, the SPV will invest close to ₹37,000 crore towards setting up of basic infra, while around ₹38,000 crore will come from private operators interested in operating the proposed deep-draft port.

“The DPR for the project has already been prepared,” Sonowal said.

Performance Index

The Ministry under the ‘Sagar Ankalan’ guidelines will benchmark the performance of Indian ports; and also index them.

This would be applicable to all Indian sea ports with an aim to achieve mapping of logistics performance and efficiency, harmonisation of standards, definitions and performance with global benchmarks, improving competitiveness, efficiency and overall performance.

Sonowal, during a stakeholders’ meeting held on Friday, also worked out guidelines and the action plan for swift implementation of MoUs at Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) 2023, worth ₹ 1-lakh crore. During the GMIS 2023, investment commitments were to the tune of ₹10-lakh crore. Some 360 MoUs, with an investment commitment of ₹8.35-lakh crore, were inked.