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IWAI issues letter of award to IRC Natural Resources for Haldia MMT deal

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NEW DELHI : The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has awarded a 10-year contract to IRC Natural Resources Pvt Ltd to run the multi modal river terminal at Haldia on National Waterway 1, tasting success on privatising one of the three such facilities build with World Bank funds.

“The letter of award for the contract was issued to IRC Natural Resources on December 17,” a government official said. “The concession agreement for the contract will be signed in due course,” he added.

IRC Natural Resources pipped the Adani Group and DP World Ltd to emerge the highest bidder on a tender issued by India’s waterway development agency to privatise the multi-modal river terminal at Haldia.

IRC Natural Resources quoted the highest royalty of ₹105 per tonne of cargo handled at Haldia MMT to be paid to IWAI in a global tender.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) quoted a royalty of ₹80 per tonne while Hindustan Infralog Private Limited (HIPL), a joint venture between Dubai government-owned D P World and India’s National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), placed a royalty price bid of ₹ 43 per tonne.

“IRC Natural Resources took everyone by surprise by its aggressive bid. By quoting low, the other bidders were trying to grab government money,” a person familiar with the matter said, referring to concerns in some quarters that the project could be derailed because of the high royalty quoted by IRC Natural Resources.

The Haldia MMT, with a capacity to handle 3.26 million tonnes (mt) of cargo a year, is being privatised on the Equip, Operate and Transfer (EOT) model. The IWAI has constructed the Haldia facility with an investment of ₹465 crore. The successful bidder will have to install cargo handling equipment at the facility and operate it.

Concession period

The Haldia contract will have a concession period of 10 years which can be extended by five years.

The multi-modal terminals at Haldia, Varanasi and Sahibganj were built by India’s waterway development agency as part of the Jal Marg Vikas Project, the 1,390-km long Varanasi to Haldia stretch along river Ganga, with a $375-million loan from the World Bank.

IWAI has made three unsuccessful attempts to privatise the Varanasi and Sahibganj multi modal terminals.

“The IWAI is working on re-modelling the Varanasi and Sahibganj projects ahead of issuing fresh tenders,” the government official said.

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