Rs 76,000 Crore Mega Container Port In Vadhavan Gathers Steam, Work Likely To Begin Next Year


The proposed Rs 76,000 crore container port project at Vadhavan in Maharashtra will have all “requisite clearances” in place by mid-January, post which work should be underway “next year”, writes businessline.

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

While the project has received environmental clearances recently, public hearings in the Dahanu area will start soon. The hearings will address the dredging of 2,000 million cubic meters of sand off the Daman coast which will be used to reclaim the land for the port.

“So we have the cabinet nod, finance ministry approval (in-principal), environment clearances received, and public hearings should be underway anytime now. By mid-January we are anticipating all approvals to be in place,” an official of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), said businessline.

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 this year, 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 Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) before going ahead with the project.

It enabled the port authority to proceed with the application to the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), affiliated with the Environment Ministry, seeking clearances for environmental and coastal regulation zone aspects of the project.

Vadhavan: A Mega Port Near Mumbai

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 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 Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (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 metres and 16 metres, 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 cargo 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 the top ten container ports.

To be built in phases, the port will handle 15 million TEU containers in the first phase and 23.2 million TEUs after the commissioning of its second phase.

According to the official, the Ministry will invest close to Rs 38,000 crore towards setting up basic infra, while a similar amount will come from private operators interested in operating the proposed deep-draft port.

On June 5, 2015, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra State government and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) to establish a new port at Vadhvan. This port is designated as a Major Port under the Indian Ports Act of 1908 by the Government of India.

The Vadhavan Port Project Ltd – a joint venture between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority and the Maharashtra Maritime Board – with a shareholding of 74 percent and 26 percent respectively, will spearhead the development of the port project.