Published On:February 27 2024
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Maharashtra Initiates Bidding Process for New Murbe Port Under Swiss Challenge Following JSW Infra's Unsolicited Proposal

The Maharashtra Maritime Board's (MMB) decision to initiate global price bids for constructing a new port at Murbe in Palghar district has ignited controversy within the port industry. This move comes after Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Infrastructure Ltd put forth a suo moto proposal to build the new port, located just 40 km away from the Vadhavan Port, currently under development by the Union government in the same district.

The proposed Murbe Port, estimated to cost approximately Rs 4,259 crores, has garnered attention for its proximity to the ongoing Vadhavan Port project, for which the MMB holds a 26% stake. Despite environmental and coastal regulation clearances obtained for the Vadhavan Port, the MMB's decision to solicit bids for a new port at Murbe has raised eyebrows.

The Vadhavan Port project, expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming days, boasts an estimated capacity of 298 million tonnes and a budget of Rs 76,220 crores. Notably, the project is being spearheaded by the state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA), holding a 74% stake.

The bidding process for the Murbe Port, conducted under the Swiss Challenge method, entails inviting competitive bids and allowing the original proponent, JSW Infrastructure, the opportunity to match the highest bid. However, concerns have been raised regarding the environmental impact and feasibility of constructing a new port in close proximity to the Vadhavan Port.

Critics argue that the Murbe Port project lacks scientific studies and prior environmental assessments, with potential legal challenges looming amidst resistance from locals and fishermen. The project's environmental implications in an ecologically fragile zone have raised further apprehensions within the industry.

Connectivity also poses a significant challenge for the Murbe Port, particularly in terms of rail and road links, requiring extensive infrastructure development and substantial investments. Moreover, JSW Infrastructure's decision to pursue the Murbe Port project as an alternative to its original proposal in Nandgaon-Alewadi, Thane district, has raised questions about the company's expansion strategy.

With uncertainties surrounding the Murbe Port project and its potential impact on the region's ecosystem and infrastructure, stakeholders are calling for a comprehensive assessment of the project's viability and environmental implications before proceeding further.

ET





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