KERALA

Vallarpadam: Centre to pursue new package

KOCHI NOV. 13. The Centre is earnestly pursuing the possibility of a government-to-government package for promoting the Vallarpadam international container transshipment terminal (ICTT) project after the two bidders for the project backed out in September.

The Cochin Port Trust (CoPT) chairman, Jacob Thomas, said here this evening that the Centre was open to suggestions on finding a proper vehicle for promoting the long-pending project.

One of the options before the Centre was a government-to-government venture that will see stakes in the project being offered to a maritime country if it is interested in the project.

If the Centre plumps for this course of action, it will be the first of its kind in the country and could be a model for other ventures.

Dr. Thomas said the Centre had expressed its willingness to be more lenient on conditions that were put up for the bidders previously. A longer lease period for the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal (RGCT) is learnt to be among the concessions that the Centre is ready to provide.

The Board of Trustees of the port which meets here on Friday will take stock of the situation and the Dr. Thomas is expected to brief the board about the meeting in Delhi on Wednesday regarding the future course of action on the Vallarpadam project.

At Wednesday's meeting, the Centre has agreed to provide a Rs. 450-crore grant for dredging operations. A further sum of Rs. 250 crores is expected as grant for providing road and rail link to the site on the Vallarpadam island.