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Vallarpadem transshipment terminal unviable says port workers body

Vallarpadam terminal in Cochin Port has hardly any scope for developing as a transshipment terminal for many reasons, a resolution passed at the 10th annual conference of the Port workers Federation has asserted. The Water Transport Workers Federation of India affiliated to AITUC has urged the Shipping Ministry to step back from the proposed deepening of the channel for ICTT Vallarpadam in Cochin Port since it will be an unviable proposition.

The shipping ministry had sunk a sum of rs six thousand crores during the UPA regime acting on the whims of a top official of the Prime Minister’s office who belongs to Kerala. The entire shipping ministry opposed the project on grounds on non viability in 2007. At one point PMO intervened and persuaded the ministry to clear the project.

It is a proven fact that Vallarpadam has hardly any scope for developing as a transshipment terminal for many reasons, including its poor cargo hinterland, a resolution passed at the 10 th annual conference of the Federation in Kolkata noted. 

CD Nandakumar, the newly elected president of the Federation, said that the DP World-operated ICTT project is still functioning as an ordinary terminal, (Not handling transshipment cargo) witnessing a slow growth in coastal cargo ever since its establishment in 2011. The present proposal to further deepen the channel will incur the port a huge expenditure for maintenance dredging, as the present annual dredging cost was to the tune of Rs 140 crore. Any proposal to add further financial burden is not affordable to the port, thereby making its future uncertain. The absence of a minimum guarantee throughput (MGT) provision in the ICTT License agreement has made things worse, he added.

The resolution also pointed out that the speedy implementation of several aggressive policies in major ports would end up the ownership of the government in the port sector, which is considered the lifeline and backbone of the country’s economy. It is to be noted that 95 per cent of the country’s EXIM trade was handled by major ports till 1991, and now it has been passed on to the private sector by repealing the Major Port Trust Act 1963.

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