The debt crisis in Dubai World will not hit the most ambitious 3-million-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent)-a-year trans-shipment hub on the Vallarpadam Island, off the Kochi coast, according to Cochin Port Trust sources.

India Gateway Terminals Ltd. (IGTL) — part of Dubai Ports World (DP World) — which won a 30-year contract to build, operate and transfer (BOT) the container terminal facility on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis from the Cochin Port Trust, is in touch with the parent company to monitor the situation following the debt crisis.

“There is no reason to worry. We don’t foresee any problem, but we are studying the situation,” Port Trust sources told The Hindu here. IGTL has already invested about Rs.1,200 crore in the the first phase of the two-phase project to be built at an investment of more than Rs. 2,000 crore.

The sources said the Port Trust called for certain documents from DP World after the debt restructuring was announced by Dubai World, of which DP World is a part.

Port Trust sources said IGTL’s work on infrastructure was progressing on schedule. Though the Vallarpadam facility was slated for commissioning in November this year, building of a four-lane road link to the project site — a condition in the licence agreement between Cochin Port Trust and Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal (RGCT), signed in Jaunuary 2005, for the latter to start operations from Vallarpadam — had lagged due delay in land acquisition and poor soil condition.

Cochin Port Trust Chairman N. Ramachandran told The Hindu that he expected the first phase of the project to be commissioned by March next. Mr. Ramachandran expressed confidence that rail connectivity for the project, being built by Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd., would be ready soon. He expected the first phase to be commissioned as scheduled now.

The Vallarpadam terminal is being built close to the existing RGCT of the Cochin Port Trust, which handled roughly 2.6 lakh TEUs of containerised cargo in the last financial year. IGTL took over the operations of the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal in April 2005 as part of the agreement.

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