Plan for All-weather port at Wadhwan revived

wadhwan portThe Maharashtra government has decided to revive the development of all-weather port at Wadhwan in Thane district. The project entails an investment of more than Rs 10,000 crore.The state-run Maharashtra Maritime Board and JNPT will form a joint venture to develop the port. Both are currently in discussion to push the handling capacity up to 100 million tonne annually.

The project was proposed in 1997 by the Shiv Sena-BJP government with the involvement of a global port construction and management company P&O. The Maharashtra Maritime Board had issued letter of intent to P&O in 1997. The project cost then was estimated at $950 million for setting up setting up a 30-berth port. However, the government scrapped the project due to strong opposition from locals as well as various political parties.

A senior state government official commented: ”The union ministry of shipping and ports has held at least four meetings with the representatives of Maharashtra Maritime Board and JNPT to discuss the project and its viability. One more meeting is proposed this week. The JV options are 51: 49, 50:50 and 74:26. Maharashtra Maritime Board is not a cash rich undertaking and therefore may opt for 26% equity and that too in the form of land and related infrastructure. The final decision will be taken during course of discussions.”

The official said the port site is quite ideal with a draft of 18 meters and it is connected to rail and road. ”The port will be able to cater to increasing cargo traffic considering constraints of Mumbai Port and Jawaharlal Nehru Port,” the official added. He informed that other ports being proposed and those operational in the state include Rewas, Dighi, Jaigad, Vijaydurg, Redi and Karanja.

Shipping and Ports expert Atul Kulkarni said the development of port north of Mumbai is the need of the hour and it is an economic decision. ”The sufficient land is available there in addition to rail and road connectivity. The port site is quite convenient as it is close to industrial centre in the state. Mumbai port is almost 140 years old while Jawaharlal Nehru Port has exhausted the water front. Therefore, Wadhwan port is expected to be a mega port to handle more volumes,” he opined.

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