THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Opening up the doors for mutual cooperation with the Centre in the Vizhinjam Port project, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the state had already expressed its willingness for all kinds of association with the Centre in this regard.
A letter in this regard was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 6, expressing the state’s willingness to associate with the Centre in the project.
Terming the allegations by BJP leader O Rajagopal as baseless, Chandy said that the letter sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the third one on Vizhinjam project, had mentioned these things in detail.
The State Government wants the project to be completed within three to four years, with Central assistance.
However, if the Union Shipping Ministry has plans to develop a major port in the south-west coast of the country, the state is ready to associate with the Union Government in the most appropriate manner, Chandy pointed out in his letter to the Prime Minister.
“Kerala is ready to discuss all possibilities for Union Government’s participation in the project,” Chandy said, adding that the state looks forward to Prime Minister’s suggestions in the initiative.
Chandy, however, said that the ongoing bidding procedures for the project should not be affected as otherwise it would cause further delay to the project.
“Three companies - Adani Ports and SEZ Ltd, SREI-OHL Consortium and Essar Ports Limited - have expressed interest and collected the forms for taking part in the bid.
They should submit the bid before September 10. If this process is not followed, the project could face major delay,” the Chief Minister said.
“The first phase of the project is expected to be completed at a cost of Rs 6,647 crore.
The Empowered Institution under the Union Finance Ministry has recommended to sanction Viability Gap Fund for the project. Now the amount should be granted by the Empowered Committee under the Finance Secretary,” the Chief Minister said.
He further demanded the Centre to give a 10-year relaxation in Cabotage Law for Vizhinjam.
Chandy said the state had been gearing up to implement the Vizhinjam project.
“The environmental clearance had been obtained and 90 per cent of land was already acquired. Procedures for water and power lines have been completed.
Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been submitted for the railway line. Once the port is developed, it would bring in major developments in the western coast including growth in tourism potential,” Chandy said.