New Site coming up at

Saturday, September 09, 2006

India plans port at Great Nicobar

As part of the post-tsunami port infrastructure building exercise, the Andaman & Nicobar administration is exploring the possibility of setting up a trans-shipment port in Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost landmass in the Indian Ocean.

A government official said a feasibility survey would soon be carried out on South Bay northeast of Indira Point, India’s lowest landmark that submerged after tsunami tidal waves hit the archipelago in December 2004.

The tropical island is also the nesting ground of Olive Ridley turtles and some areas were declared as a National Biosphere Reserve in 1989 to protect its biodiversity. But the source said the focus of this study was outside these environmentally fragile zones.

Strategically located in the east-west international sea trade corridor and with a natural draught of 16 to 18 metres, the island is capable of receiving the world’s largest cargo vessels.

At present, about 61 per cent of India’s export and import containers are trans-shipped through Colombo. The Sri Lankan port has a depth of 15 metres and is equipped with better ship berthing facilities than most Indian port cities. The Mumbai port roughly has a depth of 12m, whereas Chennai has 13m and Tuticorin about 11.9m.

Because of Great Nicobar’s location and shorter gateway to eastern ports like Singapore, foreign vessels will be able to save deviation time and cut cargo interest paid by Indian exporters for loading and offloading in Colombo. “India could become a hub and draw a chunk of the international cargo business,” he said.

Nearly 48 port sites in the islands were ravaged by tsunami, with losses mounting to Rs 450 crore.

In December last year, the cabinet approved a total grant of Rs 1,606 crore for repair and upgradation of ports in the next three years. While about Rs 1,000 crore will be given from the Rs 9,870 crore Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme (TRP) package, the remaining grant will be given in the fifth and sixth year.

The major chunk of the TRP money has been earmarked for building homes, primary healthcare centres, roads and bridges, coastal protection measures and providing livelihood means to the locals.

Currently, five port infrastructure projects will be built on a turnkey basis. They include a dry dock in Port Blair and port extension work in Car Nicobar.

Dutch company Haskoning India Pvt Ltd has secured the contract to construct harbours in Teresa island (Rs 36 crore) and Katchal Island (Rs 100 crore), including weigh bridge, cargo sheds, loading and unloading sites.

Source: Indian Express

No comments: