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Kerala to ink MoU for Vizhinjam port on Monday

Kerala PortThiruvananthapuram:(IANS) The Kerala government will ink an agreement on Monday with Adani Ports for the proposed Vizhinjam port, 25 years after the project was first mooted.

The central government too will participate in the project, to be completed in three phases at a cost of around Rs.7,525 crore.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Adani Ports chief Gautam Adani would be present when the agreement is signed between state Ports Secretary James Varghese and Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Limited CEO Santhosh Kumar Mahapatra at the Durbar Hall of state secretariat.

“If Vizhinjam was in any other state of India, the port would have been a reality more than quarter of a century back. Everything that a port needs is there in Vizhinjam,” said Chandy.

Though the first phase is expected to be ready in four years, Adani Ports officials told Chandy they would finish it in around two years.

Once completed, the port would enable ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-feet equivalent units) to dock.

TEU is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals.

The proposed port, located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

State Ports Minister K. Babu said Vizhinjam was the single biggest infrastructure project after the Idukki Dam and Kochi airport that’s going to materialise in the state.

“This is going to benefit not only the state, but the whole country,” said Babu.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) termed the MoU as a “rip-off”.

Leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan of the CPI-M, told reporters on Sunday that of the total project cost Adani is to bring in Rs.2,454 crore.

“He has been given 500 acres of land, of which the port will need 300 acres. The land value of the 500 acres is estimated to be Rs.5,000 crore and if he pledges this land, he can raise Rs.3,000 crore,” said Achuthanandan.

“So, on day one Adani gets Rs.546 crore. This is what Chief Minister Oommen Chandy claims to be the dream project of Kerala,” he added.

Adani Ports was the lone bidder and sought Rs.1,635 crore as grant for the project. It would operate the port for 40 years, extendable by another 20 years. The state government would get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years of operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to lay the foundation stone of the project on November 1, Kerala’s formation day.

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