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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tuticorin Traders apprehensive of port at Colachel

The State Government’s appeal to the Central Government to develop the existing Colachel fishing harbour in Kanyakumari district into an international transshipment hub port has created apprehension among the business community here over the prospects of Tuticorin Port being severely affected or minimised to a considerable extent.

The expansion plan of the inner harbour and the outer harbour of the Tuticorin Port in a phased manner at a cost of Rs 4571.75 crore under the National Maritime Development Project (NMDP)-Phase I and II-will further enhance the port’s infrastructure.

Though some members of the Tuticorin Hub Port Development Council (THPDC) concede that Colachel has some advantages like the natural depth of about 15- meter-draft and the minimal distance from the major sea routes, they say that it cannot be a better choice than the Tuticorin Port, which receives more mainline vessels from Europe and the US next only to the Mumbai Port.

According to an expert study undertaken by Tuticorin Port Trust, a copy of which is available with ‘The New Indian Express,’ among Chennai, Cochin, Tuticorin, Colachel and Vizhinjam ports, Tuticorin Port has the best chance, followed by Chennai and Cochin, to be developed into a transshipment port in South India.

Even in terms of the network of established services, hinterland, connectivity (including the ongoing projects) and the existence of established port facilities, Tuticorin had an edge over any other port in the south, it said.

The study further revealed that weather played an important part in Tuticorin Port scoring over the proposed Colachel Port. The sea off Colachel was rough and unstable by nature, unlike off Tuticorin Port. During the tsunami havoc two years ago, no big damage was caused to Tuticorin Port whereas Colachel was one of the worst tsunami-hit areas in the country, the study further stated.

The only advantage of the Colachel Port was its strategic location on the east-west sea routes, it said.

Though the members brushed aside the advantage, they did not rule out the possibility of development of Coalcehl into a port becoming detrimental to the interests of the Tuticorin Port as the construction of the Navha Sevah Port affected the business prospects of the Mumbai Port.

CPM district secretary Kanagaraj, whose party in Kanyakumari district is lobbying for the Colachel Port, said the importance being given to setting up an international transshipment port at Colachel would create a favourable situation to Vizhinjam for which the Kerala Government was lobbying hard.

Colachel, being situated within 40km from Vizhinjam Port, too would be another advantage for Kerala’s claim for making Vizhinjam a transshipment port,’ Kanagaraj claimed.

“Colachel fishing harbour, which is located very close to the residential area, could at best be a modern fishing harbour”, he observed.

The sea off Colachel is rough and unstable by nature, unlike the one off Tuticorin Port

Source: NewIndPress

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