Kochi, Feb 26 (UNI) The Cochin port today achieved another milestone by joining the ''Club of Deep Draft Ports'' in the country with the development of a 12.5 metre draft for its major shipping channel.
With this, the port could now handle larger container vessels.
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 to pursue the ''National Maritime Policy'' for the development of ports and shipping units in the country.
Mumbai, Chennai, Goa and Mudra ports are the other ports in the club.
Mr Baalu also said that deepening of the channel was vital in establishing the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam.
''As per the License agreement between the CPT and the Dubai ports world, the channels would have 14.5 metre draft in 2009, coinciding with the commissioning of the ICTT,'' he added.
Noting that the port had achieved the 12.5 metre draft well ahead of the stipulated time, he said the port had saved Rs nine crore in this respect. The cost of dredging that was required for achieving the draft was initially estimated to over Rs 33 crores.
On the Vallarpadam Container Trans-shipment terminal, he said there were certain problems related to acquisition of land and added that the state government had been asked to solve it. He said that 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 7920 crores for the 14 projects identified under the Maritime Policy. An amount of Rs 4438 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, he said the shipping sector would receive Rs 40,000 crore from the Centre which includes acquisition of ships, provision for inland water transport, ship building, provision for development of coastal vessels, navigation aids, maritime university and ship design.
The port sector would receive Rs 60,000 crore which include 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 tonnes from the present 10.5 metric tonnes, he said and added that 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.
On the Mattancherry wharf that caved in after a bulk consignment of common salt was unloaded last year, he said the wharf would be reconstructed and discussions were on with the IIT, Chennai.
On the Proposed largest deep sea transhipment port at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, the Minister said security clearance was awaited.
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