Vizhinjam: Navy's Plans Hit by Delay in MoD Nod
By Express News Service | Published: 24th March 2014 08:37 AM |
Delay by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in clearing the Navy’s and Coast Guard’s participation in the Vizhinjam port project and the consequent Kerala Government’s decision to go ahead with the project anyway has hit the Navy’s plans to have a strategic foothold in this region.
Under an earlier agreement, the Navy would get 500 metres of berth space for its vessels and the Coast Guard 120 metres at the proposed International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT).
Although the Navy had forwarded its recommendation to the Navy HQ, the MoD is yet to give the in-principle approval.
In a March 1 order, the state government announced its intention to proceed with the tendering process for the multi-crore project without waiting for the defence participation.
An empowered committee headed by the Chief Secretary had recommended that the government go ahead anyway if the MoD clearance was not obtained by February 25.
“The government also decided to proceed without the participation of the Indian Navy/Indian Coast Guard for the development of Vizhinjam International Seaport as the in-principle approval from the MoD, Government of India, for their participation was not received till February 28, 2014,” the order said.
“The Indian Navy’s interest in participation in the Vizhinjam Port project is because of its strategic location as well as the need for more bases for an expanding Navy. However, the final approval will have to be granted by the MoD,” the Navy spokesperson in Kochi told Express.
The state government had shown its readiness to provide space for the Navy and Coast Guard at the Vizhinjam port, provided they met the cost.
An initial state government estimate of `498 crore was also okayed by the defence agencies.
In 2008, the project got defence clearance only on the condition that Navy and Coast Guard vessels were allowed to dock at the port. Meanwhile, officials of the Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) said that the delay in the MoD nod was caused by the huge financial commitment involved.
Essentially, the Navy and the Coast Guard would have to meet a share of the cost of constructing the breakwater for the port.