Commissioning of Vizhinjam port likely to be delayed

It was set to be completed by November 2022

Published - March 15, 2022 06:42 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Going by the pace of works, the ₹7,700-crore Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport, which is set to develop Thiruvananthapuram into a port city in the State, is all set to miss the deadline again. The project had missed deadlines set by the State Government several times in the past and it was to be completed by November 2022 as per the revised schedule announced by Port Minister Ahammad Devarkovil in the last session of the Assembly.

But it will take at least one more year for the completion of the first phase if work progresses at the current pace. According to the statistics presented by the Minister in the ongoing Assembly session, Adani Vizhinjam Ports Ltd (AVPL), which develops the port on the Design, Build, Finance, Operate, Transfer (DBFOT) basis, could complete the work on 1.6 km of the total 3.1-km-long breakwater till date.

But, according to sources, the work on only 1,250 metres of the breakwater could be completed so far. The 1.6-km distance comprises marine dumping and edge-on dumping and if marine dumping is considered, the total length would also be increased further. In addition, 33% of the dredging and reclamation of 33 hectares of sea out of the 53 ha required were completed as part of the multipurpose deepwater seaport construction. Only after the completion of the breakwater work, the remaining dredging, reclamation of sea, and container berth work can be resumed.

In addition, the breakwater construction requires around 70 lakhs tonnes of rocks, while the company could source only 35 lakh tonnes till date, i.e. still a substantial portion of the breakwater work remains. Though the Minister expressed the hope that the work could be completed by November 2022 in the last session, he said in reply to a question in the ongoing session that the contractor company has been directed to prepare the schedule for commissioning the project in 2023.

But, according to sources, if there would be any adverse weather conditions in the coming monsoon season, the commissioning would be delayed further. The contractor company has invoked the natural calamities like two back-to-back floods and the Ockhi cyclone as force majeure (FM) — an event that is beyond the control of the parties and renders contractual performance impossible -- to seek extension in the deadline. The company had also listed 17 issues as major reasons for the delay when it approached the arbitration tribunal.

The project, the contract of which was signed on August 17, 2015, was to be commissioned in 2019. As per the agreement signed between the company and the State government, the latter can levy liquidated damages for each day of delay in completing the project three more months after the deadline fixed by the agreement.

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