Kochi, Feb 11 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Friday inaugurated India's first International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT) in the Special Economic Zone at nearby Vallarpadam Island.
The total cost of the first and second phase of the terminal is pegged at around Rs 6,250 crore.
The terminal after its completion will be able to handle four million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of cargo per annum.
The first phase of the project is ready to handle one million TEUs per annum.
The project, which will be operated by Dubai Port World (DPW), aims to make Kochi a key centre in the shipping world, and reduce India's dependence on foreign ports to handle trans-shipment requirements.
Once fully developed, the ICTT, a part of the expansion project at the Cochin Port, would be the largest individual terminal in India.
As part of the project, India's longest railway bridge 4.62 km long was set up over the Vembanad Lake, thereby establishing rail connectivity to Vallarpadam from the mainland.
The ICTT is expected to generate additional employment opportunities, facilitate investment flow to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore and help in the development of port-based industries to transform Kochi into an economic hub.
However, the project is being commissioned at a time when the 326 families that were evicted for setting up the terminal at Vallarpadam are yet to get a roof over their head.
The ICTT project was taken up considering the rapid growth of container traffic in India.
Due to lack of transshipment facilities in Indian ports, a substantial quantity of container traffic is transshipped through foreign transshipment terminals such as Colombo, Salalah, Dubai and Singapore, resulting in additional costs and delays ranging from seven to 10 days.
The ICTT will provide facilities for handling mother ships and thereby obviate the need for transshipment of Indian containers through other countries.
While DPW has invested Rs 1,600 crore, an equal amount has been put in by the central government through the Cochin Port for providing road and rail connectivity in the first phase.
As per the agreement between the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) and DPW, the construction of the terminal, its equipment and operations will be the responsibility of DPW, while providing road and rail connectivity to the project site and deepening the shipping channels will be the responsibility of the port.
The dignitaries expected to attend the inaugural function are Kerala Governor R S Gavai, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, Defence Minister A K Antony, Civil Aviation Minister Vyalar Ravi, Shipping Minister G K Vasan and Minister for Road Transport and Highways, C P Joshi.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the Chairman of DPW and Chairman of Dubai Port and Free Zone World, will lead the delegation from Dubai. (ANI)