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Rs 76,000 Crore Mega Container Port in Vadhavan gathers steam with CRZ Clearance

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MUMBAI : The proposed Rs 76,220 crore container port project at Vadhavan has cleared a big hurdle, with the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) recommending coastal clearance for the project.

“The MCZMA has recommended coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance to the project during a meeting held on 6 February,” said Unmesh Wagh, Deputy Chairman and Chairman in-charge, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA), which is helming the project.

The port authority has already applied for the environmental clearance and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is expected to consider the project for final approval in the next few days.

The project received a new lease of life when it received a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) on 31 July 2023, following a comprehensive four-year examination by experts to ensure compliance with all environmental laws.

The application for NOC was one of the compliances mandated by the environment ministry before going ahead with the project.

Vadhavan: A Mega Port Near Mumbai

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in February 2020, had approved setting up Vadhavan Port under the Sagarmala Programme.

Situated in the environmentally sensitive Dahanu taluka within Maharashtra’s Palghar district, Vadhavan Port boasts a natural draft of approximately 20 metres near the shore.

This feature makes it well-suited for accommodating larger container vessels ranging from 16,000 to 25,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), offering the benefits of economies of scale and contributing to the reduction of logistics costs.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Mundra, the two largest container handling ports in India, can handle only mid-size container ships as they have drafts of 15 and 16 metres respectively. However, in comparison, the world’s largest container ports require deeper drafts of 18-20 meters.

As container ships continue to increase in size, it becomes essential to develop a deep draft container port on the west coast of India to accommodate these larger vessels. The proposed port in Maharashtra is anticipated to have a capacity of over 23 million TEUs by 2040, positioning India among the top 10 container ports globally.

Additionally, the construction of the greenfield port at Vadhavan is crucial to manage overflow traffic due to limitations on expansion at Nhava Sheva, where JN Port is situated.

Landlord Model

Designated as a major port under the Indian Ports Act of 1908 , the Vadhavan port is the first major port to be developed in partnership with a state government.

It is being developed by Vadhavan Port Project Ltd (VPPL) — a joint venture between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority and the Maharashtra Maritime Board — with a shareholding of 74 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. The port will be developed in two phases under the landlord model, with an investment of Rs76,220 crore.

While the VPPL will invest an amount of Rs 43,622 crore towards creating core and common infrastructure, the remaining project cost of Rs 37,244 crore will be invested by the private operators of container terminals, multipurpose berths, coastal cargo berths, RO-RO and liquid berths selected by VPPL.

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