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Big plans for five small ports

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Looking ahead: Minister for Ports M. Vijayakumar inaugurates a workshop on port development organised by the Ports Department in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
Looking ahead: Minister for Ports M. Vijayakumar inaugurates a workshop on port development organised by the Ports Department in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Special Correspondent

Azheekal, Beypore, Ponnani, Alappuzha and Thankassery ports to be revived.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government is getting a blueprint ready for developing five small ports across the length of the Kerala coast, in addition to the deepwater container transhipment terminal at Vizhinjam (which is now being put through the re-tendering process).

Stating this at a workshop organised by the Ports Department here on Wednesday, Minister for Ports M. Vijayakumar said that the State should look ahead and prepare for the changing times.

The movement of cargo was going to get heavier by the day and ships would have to perforce take over part of the pressure mounting on the roads and the rail.

He said the government visualised future Kerala as a “maritime State.” There were 17 notified ports in the State. Of them, Azheekal, Beypore, Ponnani, Alappuzha and Thankassery were on the priority list of ports to be revived and developed for small vessel modern shipping.

“We are going ahead with this plan,” Mr. Vijayakumar said, while inaugurating the workshop.

The preliminary project reports for the small ports at Azheekal and Beypore drawn up by leading consultants were presented before Ports officials and representatives of stakeholder groups for discussion.

Sanjeev Kaushik, Ports Secretary and chief executive officer of Vizhinjam International Seaports Limited, who welcomed the gathering at the workshop, said the government was working on the idea of reviving these small ports under the public-private-participation model.

According to the presentation made at the workshop, the Azheekal port is proposed to be developed stage by stage, synchronising with the projected cargo movement increase and feeding its hinterland that includes Kannur and Kasaragod districts and parts of Kozhikode and Wayanad districts in Kerala and Coorg in Karnataka State.

The assessment now is that developing this port in stages would require an investment of Rs.560 crore spread over 15 years. With the proposal to set up a coal-based super power thermal project at Cheemeni in Kasaragod active in the agenda of Kerala State Electricity Board, coal is being seen as a major import cargo for this port. Cement will be another major import cargo.

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