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V O Chidambaranar port to become mainline port

The V O Chidambaranar port in Tuticorin near the land's end will soon become a mainline port with the shipping ministry pumping in Rs three thouand crores to increase the draft from 14 to 16.5 meters, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari announced here.

Mr Gadkari who was addressing a news conference at the end of a the three hour review meeting he held with the state chief minister E Palaniswamy and state government officials said with the increase in draft, vessels of 1,60,000 DWT can enter the port.

An additional three million ton capacity will be created through increasing the draft in the port. With larger vessels handled at the port, the logistics costs will also come down tempting the mainline vessels to call at the port.

Currently the port is a feeder port mainly concentrating on transhipment cargo for the mainline vessels stopping at Colombo port.

The minister parried questions on the progress of Colachel port where there has been no progress though the Union Cabinet had given in principle approval to the project nearly two years ago. The detailed project report is yet to be prepared for the project an indication that the project has been put on cold storage. The Minister did not make any mention about the progress of the port project during his sixty minute interaction with the press.

On the alternative alignment for Sethusamudram project the minister said the chief minister favoured the alignment close to Pamban Bridge. (The Pamban alignment will further restrict the size of vessels sailing through the ship canal project and thereby cripple its viability.)

The minister said about eight hundred acres of land near Tuticorin port and three hundred acres of land near Kamararjar port Ennore have been acquired for setting of Coastal Industrial Clusters.

Coastal berths are being constructed at Cuddalore port at a cost of Rs 115 crores while similar berths are under construction in Chennai and Tuticorin Ports, Two Logistics parks will come up at Vepedu and Nemmili near Chennai.Both the parks will be put up by the National highway authority of India.

Replying to questions he said there is no proposal to privatise the profit earning Kamarajar port at Ennore though the Committee on Disinvestment had cleared the proposal to privatize the port three months ago.

Work on the Chennai port Maduravoyal Elevated Corridor Project will commence in the next three months as the National Highway Authority is giving final touches to the revised Detailed Project Report. The project was stalled by the then Chief Minister Jayalalitha on environmental grounds for more than five years. Once the project is completed by 2021, there will be seamless movement of containers from Chennai port to Kolkata high way.

The minister also announced the extension of the Elevated Corridor from Maduravoyal to Ponamalle at a cost of Rs 1500 crores. Elevated corridors will be constructed between Tambaram and Chinglepet (Rs 2250 crores) and between Chennai and Nellore.

The work on the expressway between Chennai and Bengaluru a six lane high way which will cut short the journey time between the two cities to less than three hours will commence in six months. Land acquisition had been problem in Tamil Nadu. The issue has been sorted out and work will commence by early next year and completed in three years.

As many as 61 black spots identified in Tamil Nadu as the areas where road accidents recur frequently and a sum of Rs two thousand three hundred crores will be spent to improve the road engnieering at these spots. The ministry will also consider setting up bus ports at Coimbatore and Madurai.

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