THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: That the Vizhinjam port project would miss the 1,000-day deadline set by Gautam Adani is now official with the state government making admissions to that effect in the Assembly. The way things are shaping up, the project is also likely to miss the contractual deadline of 1,460 days for commissioning Phase I.
Major glitches in rock supply had hit the construction of the breakwater months ago. Now dredging work - the second of the three big components in Phase I - has also come to a standstill. Work on both segments is expected to resume in full strength only after the southwest monsoon.
The Adani Group has not succeeded in replacing the two dredgers that were damaged in Cyclone Ockhi in November-end. It is now almost certain the group will have to give a miss to the current dredging season.
Sources said, full-fledged dredging is expected to resume only by October this year. Dredging will prove impossible by May with the seas turning rough due to the monsoons.
‘’We will be hard-pressed,’’ is how a senior Adani Group official responded to a query as to whether it would be able to meet the contractual deadline of December 4, 2019.As per the concession agreement signed between the state government and the Adani group, Phase I would consist of 800 metres of berths and the breakwater. The dredging of the channel also was expected to be completed by then. Commercial operations, as per an earlier announcement made by the state government, was to start on December 5.
The 1,000-day deadline was announced by Gautam Adani, the chairman of the Gujarat-based group, while talking to the media after inking the agreement on August 17, 2015.Senior government Ports officials overseeing the Vizhinjam project said they were ‘’brainstorming’’ with the Adani group regarding the options before them. The construction of the breakwater is also expected to resume only when the monsoon rains recede.
For several months now, the construction of the breakwater has not progressed due to a severe shortage in construction rock. So far, only 600 metres of the 3.1 km structure has been completed. Attempts to procure rock from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and Kollam are on, but nothing has been finalised yet. Local consignments keep trickling in, but the demand is to the tune of several lakh tonnes of rock.
The plan now is to use bottom-opening barges to dump the rocks in place after the southwest monsoon. For months now, there were hints the first phase work would go beyond the deadline. On Tuesday, Ports Minister Ramachandran Kadannapally confirmed the fears in the Assembly.
August 17, 2015: UDF Government inks MoU with Adani Group
December 5, 2015: Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd starts construction of port
November 30, 2017: Ockhi strikes, damaging dredgers and other equipment
March 6: Ports Minister informs Assembly the project will miss the deadline