Maharashtra: Decks Cleared For Environment Ministry’s Nod To Mega Container Port In Vadhavan; Green Panel Grants NOC

  • The proposed deep draft port in Maharashtra is expected to have a container handling capacity of more than 23 million TEUs by 2040, thereby placing India on the global map of top 10 container ports.

The proposed Rs 66,000 crore container port project at Vadhavan has cleared a big hurdle, with the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) granting a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the project.

The port, to be helmed by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), is located in the eco-sensitive Dahanu taluk in Maharashtra’s Palghar district.

The permission will remove a big obstacle in the development of the port, and will allow the port authority to apply to the Expert Appraisal Committee attached to the Environment Ministry, seeking environmental and coastal regulation zone clearances for the project.


The Dahanu taluk had been declared as an ‘environmentally fragile zone’ in 1991 by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), following the commissioning of the Thermal Power Plant at Dahanu.

Based on a Supreme Court order, the Centre constituted the DTEPA in 1996 to protect India’s first notified eco-sensitive zone in Dahanu.

The quasi-judicial authority vide the order dated 19 September 1998 had rejected the Centre’s proposal to allow logistics giant P&O Ports to develop a port in Dahanu.

“The project would be wholly impermissible and illegal as it would be detrimental to the environmental and the socio-economic conditions of Dahanu area,” the order said.

After 1998, the project fell into dormancy, but was revived in 2015 when a special purpose vehicle was formed, with JNPA and Maharashtra Maritime Board as members, for implementing the Vadhavan Port project.

Subsequently, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, responsible for administering the 13th “major port” in India approached the DTEPA in May 2022 for no-objection certificate (NOC) for the port project.

The application for NOC was one of the compliances mandated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) before going ahead with the project.

Despite objections raised by the parties opposing the Vadhavan port, the DTEPA unanimously approved the application and granted permission for the construction of the port, which is subject to the various terms and conditions imposed by MoEF&CC and its authorities.

The conditions include an environmental impact assessment, as well as, carrying out the recommendations made by expert groups and expert agencies in their respective reports.

The final order also mandates setting up a monitoring committee for various aspects related to the development of the port from the beginning, as well as, a grievance committee to hear grievances of stakeholders and locals who are concerned with the project.

Location Change

There has been widespread opposition to the project by local communities, who fear displacement and loss of customary livelihoods as experienced by indigenous communities in Raigad’s Uran taluka (where JNPA operates India’s largest cargo port at Nhava Sheva).

Therefore, to mitigate resistance, JNPA has opted to relocate the new port at an off-shore site, as against the previous on-shore site.

“Thus, now, the location is offshore, and, as a result of which, the issues about the ecologically fragile area, environmental damage and pollution in Dahanu Taluka would largely be done away with. The legal position is that the offshore area would fall within the complete domain of the Central government, and beyond the area of Dahanu Taluka,” Justice Arun B Chaudhari, Chairman, DTEPA, wrote in the 31 July order.

The JNPA’s shift in the plan is also because the previous on-shore site would have presented difficulties associated with sourcing of material required for reclaiming 567 hectare from the sea.

Under the previous plan, JNPA had planned to use 80 million cubic metre of fragmented rocks from nearby hillocks in Palghar district.

The revised plan, however, entails sourcing 200 million cubic metre of earth from marine borrow pits located off the coast of Daman some 50-65 km away.

Vadhavan: A Mega Port Near Mumbai

The Union Cabinet in February 2020 had approved setting up Vadhavan Port under the Sagarmala Programme at a cost of Rs 65,544.54 crore.

Situated in a picturesque coastal tract, the Vadhavan Port has a natural draft of around 20 metre close to the shore, making it ideal to handle larger container vessels of 16,000-25,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs) capacity, giving the advantages of economies of scale and reducing logistics costs.

The JNPT and Mundra — the two largest container handling major ports of the country can handle only mid-size container ships as they have a draft of 15 metre and 16 metre, respectively.

Compared to this, the world’s largest container handling modern deep draft ports require a draft of 18-20 metre.

The ever-increasing size of container ships makes it imperative that a deep draft container port in the west coast of India is developed, to accommodate such ships.

The deep-draft port at Vadhavan will be able to handle various types of cargos like containers, liquid including LNG, break bulk cargo etc. as the natural advantage of deeper draft of 20 metre will be availed.

The greenfield port at Vadhavan is also necessary to cater to the spillover traffic after JNPT’s planned capacity of 10 million TEUs is fully utilised.

The proposed deep draft port in Maharashtra is expected to have a container handling capacity of more than 23 million TEUs by 2040, thereby placing India on the global map of top 10 container ports.