Ports and Excise Minister K. Babu has said that an additional 10 acres of land will be acquired for the development of the Azhikkal port where developmental works estimated at Rs.418 crore will be carried out.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to the port on Monday, Mr. Babu said a meeting attended by the Ports Secretary, Law Secretary and the Ports Director would be held in the capital on January 12 to discuss the recommendations of the consultant for the port's development. He said that Deloitte India Ltd., the consultant, had submitted its report on the works estimated at Rs.418 crore.

It may be recalled that the State government had asked Deloitte India Ltd. to submit a revised detailed feasibility report (DFR) on the development of the Azhikkal port in the wake of the reluctance of the Mundra Port and SEZ Ltd., the lone bidder to the global tender floated for attracting private investment for the port development. The company, which was interested in the coal-based thermal project proposed at Cheemeni in Kasaragod, backed out when the State government decided to abandon the coal-based project.

Retendering

The Minister said that a decision on the retendering procedures would be taken at the meeting in the capital. An elaborate seminar on the development of the port would be held here prior to the launching of the retendering process, he said adding that the presence of Chamber of Commerce representatives in the region and in Mysore would be ensured at the seminar. The people's representatives in the region would also be participating in the seminar.

The Minister said 10 acres were being acquired additionally because of the paucity of land required for the port's development. He also said the government had earmarked Rs.26 lakh for the development of the road to the port.

Channel depth

Referring to the talks with delegates from Lakshadweep on the proposal for increasing the depth of the ship channel and the mouth, the Minister said the dredging vessel Sindhuraj of the Kerala State Maritime Development Corporation would start the work soon.

Mr. Babu said the government would take all steps for the development of the port. Vessel operators and contractors in Lakshadweep had conveyed that the port would be a favourite destination of their vessels if dredging had been done in the basin to increase the depth of the channel and the mouth. They were of the view that more cargo operators would turn up to Azhikkal if the channel had a minimum 4.5-metre depth for the safe navigation of vessels.

MLAs K.M. Shaji and T.V. Rajesh and Ports Director Jacob Thomas were

among those who accompanied the Minister during his visit to the port.