The government has extended the last date for submitting global tenders for the construction of infrastructure for the Vizhinjam international seaport.

Ports Minister K.Babu informed the Assembly on Monday that the last date had been extended to February 4 following a request from the bidders seeking more time to submit proposals for the construction of a breakwater, fish landing centre and berths for the Coast Guard and Indian Navy, and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) for dredging, reclamation and superstructure equipment operation.

This is the second extension of the last date for the contracts. The initial date fixed at December 4 was extended to January 21.

Making a statement in the House, Mr.Babu said the project had cleared a major milestone with the environmental clearance issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. As the only greenfield port project in India to secure this clearance and on the strength of the basic infrastructure and technical studies, it is expected to attract the best investors.

He said the government had sought the cooperation of the Planning Commission and the Kerala State Planning Board to organise a road show on the seaport project at Mumbai. The government, he said, had prepared a road map for the time- bound completion of the seaport and the work was expected to commence this year.

The statement said the Vizhinjam seaport would be able to accommodate supertankers and big container ships. “The project has been redesigned to avail of Central government funding. Accordingly, the cost estimate has gone up from Rs.2,616 crore to Rs.3,640 crore. Under the revised plan, the port will be equipped to handle mother vessels upto 18,000 TEU (Twenty- foot Equivalent Units)”.

The Minister told the House that the State government had given Rs.629 crore to the Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL) and acquired 192 acres for the project. The feasibility report of the rail link to the seaport would be submitted to the Railways shortly.

Mr.Babu said the government had also initiated steps for relaxation of cabotage laws to ensure profitable operation of the Vizhinjam seaport. “We have approached the Centre seeking relaxation”.