"Recent reports suggest that the South Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries
is building the world’s largest container ship of 16,000 TEU with 20 per cent
more capacity than the current largest container ships of 13,000 TEU. With a
length of 400 metres, drawing a draught of 18 m when fully loaded, this behemoth
is expected to begin regular service by 2011. By that time, it is expected that about 200 giant container ships of 10,000 TEU capacity and above are likely to be in active service. These giant ships may draw a draught ranging from 15-18 m and they will be very selective in their port calls." The Hindu
Vizhinjam is a small coastal town in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Why Vizhinjam port is so important is that it fullfill the above conitions, that too with minimal maintenence coast.
The advantages of the site is the availability of 20m contour with in a nautical mile of the coast; Proximity to international shipping routes due to its unique positionIt requires a diversion of just 20 nautical miles, and will become a good stopover for vessels before proceeding to Suez; Minimal littoral drift along the coast so low maintenence and dredging coast ;Close to international airport and rail road networks etc.
"The study, carried out by IL&FS infrastructure Development Corp andHauer Assiociates, says that container traffic at Indian ports has increased by 102 per
cent over the previous five years to 3.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units
(TEUs) in 2003-04. The rapid growth is expected to continue and by 2016-17, the
country will handle 15.64 million TEUs.
On the other hand, the present Indian gateway ports do not attract a sufficient number of mainline vessels due to inadequate facilities and the distance from international shipping routes. As of now, about 61 per cent of Indian export/import containers are trans-shipped through the nearby foreign ports of Colombo, Singapore and Salalah (Oman.) This results in an additional burden of up to $200 per TEU of cargo interests with freight paid by Indian exporters being 11.4 per cent of the c.i.f
(cost, insurance, freight) value of goods as against the world average of 6.1
per cent." Hindu Businessline
Not only this, in total Indian ports doesnt have the capability to handle huge motherships. Now we are depanded on Singapore, Salala, Colombo ports for transshipment.
"according to the Container Shipment Economics Study. At present, India`s port
capacity (12 major Indian ports) is a meagre 4.61 million TEUs/annum compared
with China`s capacity of 50 million TEUs, almost 11 times that of India`s" Lankannewspapers
A port which have so much economical advantage and critical importance faced so much delays may be unbeliveble, but its the truth. Vizhinjam was declared as a port in 1977, opened for cargo only in 1991, but to be declared as a customs port it waited upto July 1992; The history of the plan to develop the port is much more sad story. Memorandum of understanding to develop the port as trans-shipment port was signed in1995. But its is yet to realise!!!
The bid to build port facilities was won by Chinese firms, which was rejected by Union shipping ministry citing security resons. But the ruling allience led by CPI(M) wasted time by fighting against the decision. Legal battle followed with Mumbai based Zoom developers, and in the end the Hyderabad based firm Lanco Kondapalli which won the bid told to the ministry that it is withdrawing from the project because of the possible delays and legal issues.
On july 25, 2009 Kerala Law and ports minister asked the union government to take 4,500 crore project as it had the potential to earn over 1000 crore rupees of foreign exchange after commissioning.
I dont think people expect the government to execute the projects in lightning speed. Nor they expect the efficiency of Chinese government in finishing dream projects. But I think people of India have the right to see the completion of projects in sheduled time.
This will be the one of dream projects in Kerala atleast for the nect 3-5 decades if realised. It will rewrite India's shipping history and we will no longer depanded on other nations for trans-shipment. But the million dollor question is will the governments allow it to develop?