|The Shipping Ministry has identified an alternative location to build a new major port in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. This follows the opposition from local groups to build a port at Enayam in the constituency of Pon Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Shipping, and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) only law maker from the State.|
The government has mandated a consortium of Spanish consulting firm TYPSA and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to write a detailed project report (DPR) on the new site which is closer to Kanyakumari, nestled between Kovalam and Keelamanakudi villages, I Jeyakumar, Chairman, VO Chidambaranar Port Trust, told BusinessLine.
TYPSA-BCG consortium had earlier written the DPR for the Enayam site which was chosen after detailed evaluation of four locations such as Kanyakumari, Manavalakurichi, Colachel and Enayam.
Awaiting official nod
Amongst the four options, Enayam (westward to Colachel and located between Helen Nagar and Melakurumbanai village) emerged as the best option on the basis of ease of construction and expansion, connectivity, environmental issues and maintenance overhead.
In July 2016, the Union Cabinet accorded in-principle approval for building a new major port at Enayam in Kanyakumari district in three phases with an investment of ₹27,570 crore to handle 127 million tonnes (mt) a year.
Enayam, though, has not yet been dropped from hosting the new major port, Jeyakumar said.
“The decision to drop Enayam and the approval for the new location will be with the government. Once, the feasibility of the alternate site is established, we will approach the Shipping Ministry for change of location. It will be done only after an official approval from the government,” Jeyakumar stated.
The new location – the fifth to be considered – is technically and logistically a “good location” and does not have the kind of issues that Enayam faces, he said.
The new site does not have any fishing villages.
“There will be zero displacement; nobody will be disturbed. Besides, no land acquisition is envisaged for port construction,” says Jeyakumar.
The proposed new site is well-connected to road and rail - Kanyakumari has a national highway, while the nearest railway station is 3.5 km.
Jeyakumar said that there was “some opposition” from the local groups to the new site also which the government is trying to allay through talks.
“We get the feeling that there is a change of mind among the locals and they are thinking positively of the new location because nobody will be affected. The only thing now is to technically prove that the new port would not result in beach erosion and such other things,” he said.
The port (at Enayam) will mainly accommodate containers and operate largely as a hub, leveraging its location on the international trade route between countries in South-East Asia, Middle East and Europe, according to TYPSA-BCG.
However, port experts have scoffed at the prospect of building a new container transhipment hub at Enayam when a similar facility is being constructed just a few kilometres away at Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.