Kochi, Feb 26 (UNI) The Cochin Port today achieved another milestone by joining the ''Club of Deep Draft Ports'' in the country with a 12.5-metre draft for its major shipping channel.
Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T R Baalu who announced the achievement at the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) here, said the government was determined in pursuing the ''National Maritime Policy'' for the development of ports and shipping units in the country. Mumbai, Chennai, Goa and Mudra ports were the other ports in the club.
With the Cochin Port achieving the 12.5 metre draft, it was now in a position to handle larger container vessels. Mr Baalu also said deepening of the channel was vital in establishing the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam.
As per the licence agreement between the CPT and the Dubai Ports World, the channels will have 14.5 metre draft in 2009, coinciding with the commissioning of the ICTT, he added.
He noted the port had achieved the 12.5 metre draft well ahead of the stipulated time leading to Rs nine crore in savings.
On the Vallarpadam Container Trans-shipment terminal, he said there were certain problems related to land acquisition and the state government had been asked to solve them.
He said the 8.5-km rail link and 17.2 Km road connectivity was also planned at a cost of Rs 150 crore and Rs 314 crore respectively for Vallarpadam.
Mr Baalu said the Cochin Port would get Rs 7,920 crore for the 14 projects identified under the new project, ''Maritime Policy''. An amount of Rs 4,438 crore has been earmarked for the strengthening and deepening of the three berths on Ernakulam Wharf and Rs 412 crore for deepening the drafts for larger bulk vessels, he added.
Under the National Maritime Policy the shipping sector would receive Rs 40,000 crore from the Centre for acquisition of ships, provision for inland water transport, ship building, development of coastal vessels, navigation aids, maritime university and ship design among others.
The port sector will receive Rs 60,000 crore for construction of berths, purchase of port equipment, development of special economic zone, he said and added that the private sector investment in ports would be Rs 35,000 crore.
The Petroleum Oil Lubricant storage capacity would be increased to 18 metric tonne from the present 10.5 metric tonne and the container capacity would be increased from the present two lakh TEUs to 12.5 lakh TEUs by 2009.
The Minister said that a tourist jetty would also be established with multinational facilities between the Ernakulam Wharf and the present jetty.
The Mattancherry wharf would be reconstructed and discussions were on with the IIT, Chennai, he said.
On the proposed largest deep sea transhipment port at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, the Minister said security clearance was awaited.
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