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Upcoming Vadhavan Port may cast a shadow on Vizhinjam port’s prospects

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MUMBAI : As the Kerala Government and the Adani Group move ahead with the scheduled launch of the commercial operations of the Vizhinjam International Seaport by the end of this year (2024), the Union government’s decision to set up an all-weather greenfield deep-draft major port at Vadhavan in Maharashtra, billed as the biggest in the country and one of the top 10 ports in the world upon completion, has created a flutter in the State.

The new port to be constructed at ₹76,220 crore, including land acquisition, is likely to emerge as a strong competitor for the State which is hopeful of leaping economic activity by banking on the ₹7,700-crore Vizhinjam port project. The total container handling capacity of the Vadhavan port will be 23.2 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalents), while the capacity of Vizhinjam in the first phase will be one million TEUs, and the subsequent phases will see an addition of 6.2 million TEUs.

10.14-km breakwater

The Vadhavan project involves the reclamation of 1,448 hectares of sea and the construction of 10.14 km of offshore breakwater and container/cargo storage areas, while the breakwater length in Vizhinjam is 3.1 km.

According to sources, the location of the Vadhavan project will have a big advantage since it can cater to the entire central, northern, eastern, and western parts of the country. The road connectivity for the project is to be done by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and the rail connectivity by the Ministry of Railways. The port will also be connected to the national rail network as well as to the dedicated freight corridor.

Proximity to shipping channel

Jayakumar, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL), said it was true that the catchment area of the Vizhinjam port would be confined to four major south Indian States. “Nevertheless, the Vizhinjam port can stay afloat considering the proximity of the port to an international shipping channel. The shipping lines will make a direct call at the Vadhavan port only if there are sufficient container volumes, like 2,000-3,000 TEUs. On the other hand, the shipping lines that pass through the international shipping channel can make a call at Vizhinjam without deviating much from the channel and unload containers here even if the volume is 100 to 1,500 TEUs,” he said, adding that our future lay in the transshipment of containers.

Kerala would have to ensure a dedicated road and rail corridor and last-mile connectivity so as to take the containers to the targeted destination in south India within 48, said sources.

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