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Trans-shipment terminal: CPT officials plump for Puthuvypeen

By Our Special Correspondent

KOCHI, JAN. 8. The Cochin Port Trust (CPT) Officers' Association has come up with an alternative proposal to the long-delayed Vallarpadam project. It is plumping for Puthuvypeen so that future development of the container trans-shipment terminal could be ensured.

Other factors in favour of this proposal include reduced dredging cost, better depth to attract deep-draft new-generation vessels and reduction in overall cost from the proposed Rs.2,000 crores to Rs.1,200 crores.

The association wants immediate steps to upgrade the existing facilities at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal (RGCT) since the development and functioning of the new trans-shipment terminal at Puthuvypeen will take about three years from now. The proposed augmentation of the facilities at the RGCT includes procurement of equipment at an estimated cost of Rs.90 crores.

The association, which submitted a memorandum to the authorities, pointed out that the Netherlands-based consultant firm, Frederic R. Harris, had conducted a detailed feasibility study for the proposed container terminal at Vallarpadom during 1998-99 and come to the conclusion that the project would be commercially viable for a world-class container terminal.

Accordingly, the Cochin Port Trust invited tenders for the development of a world-class container terminal on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, on a revenue sharing basis. The bidders were of the opinion that the initial investment would be high if the terminal was set up at Vallarpadom. The main reasons projected by the bidders were that the capital as well as maintenance costs of dredging at Vallarpadom would be very high; the soil condition at Vallarpadom is comparatively poor, which would increase the construction cost. It is in this context that the new proposal for locating the terminal at Puthuvypeen has come up. The advantages are many. Capital cost for the entire development is estimated to be Rs.1,240 crores as against Rs.2,000 crores at Vallarpadom. The capital dredging cost could be reduced from Rs.220 crores to Rs.140 crores. The maintenance dredging cost could be reduced from about Rs.63 crores per annum to Rs.28 crores and more back-up area would be available for future development, point out experts. The plus points for Puthuvypeen include its location and the fact that the development of the terminal would be towards the sea, which is in tune with the world scenario. There would be no restriction for heights of the crane as it is outside the flying funnel area.

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