THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Privately-owned Mundra Ports and SEZ, one of the two bidders for the port operator’s post for the multi-crore Vizhinjam seaport project, is out of the race with the Home Ministry rejecting its bid.
With Mundra out, only one more bidder is left in the fray; a consortium consisting of Welspun Infratech, Welspun Corporation and Welspun-Leighton.
The Home Ministry’s ‘no’ came after the Defence Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry had cleared the two bidders. No reasons had been given so far for the rejection.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told a post-Cabinet meeting here that the ideal situation was to have at least two bidders, but since Home Ministry had denied clearance to Mundra, the government would study the legal aspects of the issue.
Ports Minister K Babu said the fresh development would not delay the project as the bidding was only for the post of port operator. And this factor, he said, hinges on the financial bid submitted by Welspun. The government is yet to float global tenders for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) bids for the actual construction of the port.
The Kerala Government and the Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL), the government company overseeing the project, were awaiting the Home Ministry’s decision to open the financial proposals of the two firms.
According to senior port officials, the fact that Welspun alone is left in the fray does not follow that it is the selected port operator by default.
The previous LDF Government had chosen the ‘Landlord Model’ for the project in which the government owns the port infrastructure. The UDF Government had decided to continue with the model. The project is to be taken up in three distinct phases, with the first phase expected to be commissioned by 2015.