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Sirkali major port project may be called off

Even as none of the major port projects contemplated by the shipping ministry three years ago have taken off, the prospects of a major port coming up at Sirkali appears doomed as the state owned Neveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) has walked out of the 4000 MW power plant near the coastal town in central Tamil Nadu.

Sirkali has been listed by the shipping ministry as one of the six major ports to be developed to handle the coal cargo of the thermal plant proposed to be set up there. Now that the NLC has folded up the project in favour of a new venture in Odisha, the major port project of the ministry will more or less be shelved.

Other port projects of the ministry at Colachel, Sagar Islands and Dahanu in the drawing board for the past three years have not taken off. The detailed project report for the Colachel-Enayam port is yet to be prepared though the Cabinet has given in principle approval for the port. The local fishermen are up in arms against the project

Colachel was conceived as a competitor to Colombo port as a transhipment hub but India is all set to invest in Colombo port through Container Corporation of India and hence the rationale for persisting with Colachel port project appears dim.

While Dahanu port project is resisted by environmentalists, the Sagar island port project has run into rough weather with the West Bengal government. The two port projects in southern Andhra Pradesh were called off presumably due to pressure from a private port in the vicinity.

In all likelihood the Sirkali port project has to be called off following the NLC's decision to shift their plant to Odisha near the pitheads.

The Rs 15,000 crore Sirkali thermal power project was on the radar of NLC for the past five years along with a port to handle coal. NLC has spent nearly Rs fifty crores for the pre project activity.

NLC had even entered into a power purchase agreement with Tamil Nadu Power Generation and Distribution Corporation for purchase of power from the proposed project at Sirkali. The state electricity corporation has no proposal to set up a plant at the site vacated by NLC.


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