MUMBAI : : Delay in getting security clearance for one of the four bidding groups from the Ministry of Home Affairs has held up the finalisation of a tender issued by State-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority to privatise its shallow water and coastal berths through the public-private-partnership (PPP) route, multiple sources said.
Bids for the project were submitted in May this year. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) is waiting for security clearance from the Centre to Yogayatan Ports Pvt Ltd-Man Infraconstruction Ltd consortium ahead of opening the price bids for the project, a port official said.
The security clearance for the other three bidders – J M Baxi Ports & Logistics Ltd, JSW Infrastructure Ltd and Bothra Shipping Services Pvt Ltd – are already in place as these bidding groups were granted approval recently earlier while participating in other projects, which will remain valid for a five-year period.
The clearance to Yogayatan Ports-Man Infraconstruction, according to a government source, is stuck at the Ministry of Home Affairs, while other agencies functioning under the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs have granted approval.
“The four months delay in granting security clearance to the Yogayatan Ports-Man Infraconstruction consortium which is a Mumbai-based group with no overseas presence, reflects poorly on the Ministry of Home Affairs,” said a port industry consultant.
The delay in granting security clearance runs counter to the targets set by the government for awarding port projects, a key part of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) and the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), the government source said.
The 4.5 million tonne (mt) a year capacity shallow water berth has a length of 445 metres with a depth of 10 metres, capable of handling container, cement, general cargo, and liquid cargo vessels.
The construction of the dedicated berth for coastal shipping was taken up under the ‘Sagarmala’ program of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways to provide a boost to coastal cargo movement.
The coastal berth has the capacity to handle about 2.5 million tonnes of coastal cargo like break bulk, dry bulk etc. The berth has a back-up area of 11 hectares to store cargo. JNPA also plans to set up silos for storage of cement which will enable faster turnaround of vessels.
The coastal berth, which was completed in November 2020, aims to provide better infrastructure for coastal shipping and decongest rail and road networks, ensuring cost-competitive and effective multi-modal transportation solutions.
The construction of the dedicated berth is in line with the government’s policy to promote coastal shipping to shift freight from road to an environment-friendly and cost-effective mode of transport.
The coastal berth will aid smooth and faster coastal movement of cargo through a green channel and help increase the share of coastal shipping in the domestic cargo movement and as well as facilitate the export-import (EXIM) community.
JNPA had invited bids in a single stage clubbing both the technical and financial bids, unlike other tenders which have a two-stage bidding process – a technical bid followed by a price bid.