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Govt to re-tender Vizhinjam port project

Govt to re-tender Vizhinjam port project

Thiruvananthapuram: A high level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Tuesday decided to go ahead with re-tendering to find a builder for the proposed Vizhinjam port, said Minister for Ports K Babu.

The minister told reporters that Chandy will speak to the top officials of the companies that had earlier showed interest in building the port.

"It has been decided to re-tender the port project and it will be open for another 30 days. We will go ahead in the most transparent manner," said Babu.

Last Friday, Kerala's dream Vizhinjam port project received a serious setback when none of the three bidders in the fray turned up.

"We have no clue on what happened as those who had shown interest were keen to attend the tender process," said Babu.

Tuesday's emergency meeting was attended by Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani, Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty and other top officials.

The Rs.4,000 crore first phase of the project created history of sorts early this month when it became the first port project in the country to get a Rs.800 crore approval for viability gap funding from the Centre.

Several companies, including Essar, Adani Ports and a consortium of SREI and Spanish firm OHL had passed the initial muster for becoming eligible to take part in the auction.

A source in the know of things told IANS that the government will look for more bidders.

The proposed port is to come up near the famed Kovalam beach and is expected to be completed in three phases, with the first phase to be ready in 2019.

Once completed, ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (twenty feet equivalent units) can dock here.

The Vizhinjam port site has a natural depth of 24 metres, one of the deepest in the world and hence requires no dredging.

The proposed port, as it is located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

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