CHENNAI: In what could boost the economic prospects of Tamil Nadu, especially the south, the Centre has given the green light for the development of Colachel, Kanyakumari, into a major port transforming it into India’s southern trans-shipment gateway.
The Rs 21,000 crore project will involve reclaiming 500 acres of land from the sea, and will take three years to complete, according to the union minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, the MP from Kanyakumari, on Thursday.
“The Tamil Nadu government has given its consent for the project which will be fully financed by the Centre, after union shipping minister Nitin Gadkari wrote to the state government in this regard,” said Radhakrishnan.
This will be the next major port in the country, Radhakrishnan told Express, adding that the feasibility study that was submitted about a month ago was very positive.
“Now we will have to prepare the detailed project report,” he said.
This will be taken up in three phases — the first phase, estimated to cost about Rs 6,628 crore and the next two about Rs 7,000 crore each, Radhakrishnan added. “We have already held a meeting with the ministries of railways and road transport to discuss the construction of approximately 11 kms of road that is needed to be laid for the project,” he said.
The minister said, large container ships — called mother vessels — need about 18 metres of water depth. Colachel is already a natural harbour with water that is about 20 metres deep.
“Also, the proposed port is less than four nautical miles away from the international shipping channel. Due to these factors, we are expecting it to develop into a major destination for international cargo movement,” Radhakrishnan said.
At the moment, mother vessels dock at bigger facilities in Colombo and Singapore, from where the cargo is sent to the smaller ports on feeder ships. This, strategically, is a sensitive matter for the country, especially since the Lankan facility is developed by the Chinese.
The Colachel port would have the ability to handle around two million metric tonnes of cargo initially, which would gradually be enhanced to eight million metric tonnes in the coming years, he added.
The announcement comes close on the heels of the decision to develop Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport in Kerala, which lies quite close to Colachel. Radhakrishnan said, however, the two projects will not have any impact on each another.