Environmental nod on agenda

The board of directors of Vizhinjam International Seaports Limited (VISL) chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will meet on Wednesday to initiate steps to win environmental clearance for the Vizhinjam port project.

The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (EISA) of the project has just been completed by Asian Consulting Engineers (India) Limited and L&T Ramboll Consulting Engineers Limited, advisors to VISL in the subject. Public hearing ahead of placing the EISA report before the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is to be called by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board. VISL is getting ready to approach the board for completing the procedure early.

A top government official said VISL board, at its meeting on Wednesday, would discuss details of the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contracts for which tenders would have to be floated. The Rs.4,010-crore port project is conceived along the landlord model, where it will be the responsibility of the VISL, a company owned by the State government, to create the basic infrastructure. The consultant firm AECOM is advising VISL on EPC matters.

The port superstructure will be built by private operator, who will also operate and maintain the port for 30 years. The port will be free of all lease encumbrances after 30 years to become a completely owned government project. Having rejected the offer of a consortium led by Welspun Infratech Limited (India) to take up the port operator’s role against the provision of a grant of Rs.399.55 crore two months ago, the VISL will be going for a fresh tender to find new bidders. The VISL may not rush the issue of fresh tender to find the port operator until the winning of the environmental clearance, the official said.

“Our first priority now is to win the clearance. Once the clearance is gained, there will be more number of bidders to take up the role of the port operator, with better offers than the sole offer from Welspun we received last time. Further, the government’s commitment in the matter of building this port is also fully evident now and that is sure to generate a new enthusiasm among prospective bidders,” the official said.

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