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Centre scraps a major port proposal in Andha Pradesh; none of the new port projects has taken off

Centre has decided to scrap the proposal to develop a greenfield port at Dugarajapatnam in Nellore district. Niti Aayog and other experts shared that the port was not viable. Niti Aayog raised objections on the rate of return on the proposed port due to its proximity to already established ports at Krishnapatnam, Chennai and Ennore.

Sources said the Centre has already communicated the same to the state government. The project was hanging fire for the past four years due to technical and financial reasons.

Interestingly, sources said that the Centre had asked the state to propose another major project instead of Dugarajapatnam port. Even though the Centre made up its mind on scrapping Dugarajapatnam port proposal, it is not rushing the matter with the TDP government, an alliance partner of the BJP.

"We will take a call after consulting AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

The Centre further conducted two separate studies to evaluate the project's viability. A US-based multinational consultancy firm conducted an in-depth study on the same.

The consultancy firm said that the port's location was ill-suited as it was close to the satellite launch station at Sriharikota and a protected bird sanctuary at Pulicat lake. "It will be tricky to handle commercial operations at the port as permits would be necessary from authorities at Shar. Proximity to Pulicat lake will hamper development plans of the port," said a senior Andhra Pradesh government official.

Durgarajapatnam was one of the ports finalysed for development by the UPA I government which floated a project to develop one major port in the east and west coast. The then AP government proposed that either Ramayapatnam or Durgarajapatnam sites could be considered for development of a state owned major port.

Both the port projects have been virtually shelved and a powerful private port lobby is understood to have prevailed on the state government against setting up a major port in the area.

The shipping ministry's various port projects are in limbo though they were conceived three years ago when the present government came to power.

Colachel port project is facing problems from fishermen. But the issue has not been tackled the way Kudangulam project was commissioned. Besides, shipping ministry is all set to invest in the Colombo port expansion project through Container Corporation of India. The very idea of developing a transhipment hub at Colachel gets defeated once CONCOR invests in Colombo port expansion project.

The Detailed project report is yet to be prepared though the cabinet gave in principle approval for the project two years ago.

The Sagar island port project also has not taken off due to differences between the shipping ministry and the West Bengal government. The west Bengal government is going ahead with the construction of a port near sagar island project.

The only other major port project at Dahanu in Maharashtra is also facing problem from the environmentalists.


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