Kochi, Feb 11 (PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singhdedicated the country''s first International ContainerTransshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam Island near here to thenation today, describing it as a "milestone in logisticinfrastructure development."
"With the building of this terminal, our exporters cannow access mainline containers vessel calling at one of themost well-located ports of India," Singh said afterinaugurating the first phase of the over Rs 3,200 croreterminal under the Cochin Port expansion project, making itthe first port in the country that can berth very largevessels.
Dubai Ports World built the terminal at a cost of aroundRs 1,600 crore. The terminal can handle up to 1 million TEUs(twenty foot equivalent units) of cargo per annum. Inaddition, another Rs 1,700 crore was invested on providingroad and rail connectivity to the terminal.
"The ICTT in Vallarpadam is thus a long-awaited milestonein the development of a country''s logistic infrastructure,"Singh said.
The Prime Minister noted that the absence of a global hubport and the lack of transshipment facilities had put India''strade at a disadvantage.
"Today, about 60 per cent of India''s exports and importscontainers are transshipped through ports like Singapore andColombo. This transshipment through ports outside the countryinvolves an additional expenditure of USD 300 per containerand an extra 7-10 days of transit time," he said.
Singh said a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import andre-gasification facility would also be constructed at Kochi byMarch, 2012.
"It (ICTT) is a symbol of how public private partnershipcan contribute to public goods and it will be an enduringsymbol of the close ties we wish to build with extendedneighbours in West Asia, including the United Arab Emirates,"he said.
Stating that construction of the terminal was thecentrepiece of a comprehensive plan to develop Kochi as aneconomic and logistical hub in the region, he said the projectarea has been declared as a Special Economic Zone.
"A link road has been built to connect Vallarpadam withNH-47 and NH-17. The Railway Vikas Nigam Ltd has completed the8.5-km rail link that connects the terminal to the railwaynetwork," he said.
Besides, the navigation channel is being deepened. Thisis a challenging task involving the removal of nearly 26million cubic metres of soil.
The Prime Minister had in February, 2005, laid thefoundation stone for the ambitious project. The Cochin Porthas public-private partnership (PPP) investments worth USD2,250 million lined up.