Manmohan to inaugurate project today

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate India's first international container transhipment terminal on Vallarpadam Island, near Kochi, on Friday.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Union Minister for Shipping G.K. Vasan, Union Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi and Union Overseas Affairs and Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan will attend the function.

Dr. Singh had laid the foundation stone for the project in 2005.

The facility, built at a cost of more than Rs.3,200 crore, will meet the need for a transhipment terminal and a maritime cargo hub.

India's sea-borne trade now depends on ports of Colombo, Salalah and Singapore for transhipment of containers.

Indian exim business pays up to Rs.1,200 crore annually in transhipment charges at these foreign ports.

The transhipment terminal will be operated by DP World through its subsidiary India Gateway Terminals Limited. DP World has won a 30-year licence to run the facility on a revenue share agreement with the Cochin Port Trust.

The terminal is being commissioned over three phases. The first phase, going on stream on Friday, will have a capacity to handle one million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) of cargo a year. In the second phase, the capacity will go up to 1.5 million TEUs and in the third 5.5 million TEUs.