Published On:February 29 2024
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"VOC Port Begins Outer Harbour Container Terminal Project a Decade After Inception"

After a decade-long wait, the construction of an outer harbour container terminal at VO Chidambaranar port in Thoothukudi has finally commenced. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the ₹7,056-crore project on Wednesday. This terminal is poised to elevate VOC Port's status, potentially transforming it into a major container transshipment hub capable of competing with neighboring Colombo for box cargo traffic.

Initially announced in 2013 by the then Congress government, the project, with an annual capacity to handle 4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), faced delays due to various reasons, as per a senior government official.

Union Shipping Minister Sarbanananda Sonowal, addressing the media in Chennai on Tuesday, highlighted that the completion of this project would establish VOC Port as the first transshipment hub on the east coast of India.

The VOC Port Authority issued a request for qualification (RFQ) for the development of the outer harbour container terminal project with viability gap funding from the Government of India through a public-private partnership on a ‘design, build, finance, operate, and transfer’ basis. The project encompasses two container terminals in the outer harbour, along with dredging and breakwater construction at the port.

The initial handling capacity will be 2 million TEUs in the first phase, with an additional 2 million TEUs added in the second phase. The construction period for the first stage is set at 36 months, followed by 24 months for the second stage. Commercial operations for the first container terminal are expected to commence 36 months after the award of the concession.

The depth in the proposed dredge boundary of the outer harbour basin varies from 10 m to 14.5 m, necessitating capital dredging to accommodate vessels up to 16 m draught. The concessionaire will be responsible for maintaining a minimum depth of 16.9 m in the dock basin and turning circle basin, and 17.40 m in the approach channel throughout the concession period, facilitating the attraction of large 'mother' container vessels to the port.


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