The West Bengal government has invited fresh bids for developing a greenfield, private deep sea port at Tajpur in East Midnapore district of the state on design-build-finance-operate-and-transfer basis.
The port is proposed to be developed on a straight beach front and will be located located very close to mineral-rich belts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. The identified site is located 180 km from Kolkata and 10 km from Digha.
After a tepid response in the previous round of bid, the state government is now offering ''better'' conditions such as 1000 acres of encumbrance-free land to attract investors.
The state is also offering a concession period of 99 years against the usual 30-35 years in such projects, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) official said. WBIDC serves as state’s nodal body for industrialisation.
The state government is also proposing to invest Rs.4,200 crore on this project.
In December last year, the West Bengal Maritime Board called for letters of intent from firms interested in developing the proposed port but the response was lukewarm.
"Lots of suggestions during the previous call helped us make the bidding more practical. We have kept the request for qualification and the request for proposal in a single bidding process," the official said.
Previously, the state government had proposed that the port be built on reclaimed land as it is against forcible land acquisition for industry. ''Now, the state government is offering 1000 acres of encumbrance-free land. The government is also flexible on the quantum of land to be reclaimed,'' the official said. The reclamation has to be done by the port developer.
A land swap deal between the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) has also significantly brightened the prospects for the proposed port. 1000 acres at Dadan Patra Bar near Tajpur was earmarked for solar project under WBSEDCL will be swapped with land earmarked for building industrial parks by WBIDC.
Earlier Bid Received Lukewarm Response
Several port developers had shown initial interest in the Tajpur project but later expressed certain reservations, compelling the government to invite fresh bids offering relaxed norms. Besides presenting a concession period of 99 years, the state government is freeing the prospective investor from the cost of connectivity infrastructure like roads and railways which will help it reduce capex.
The pre-bid meeting is slated for November 11 and the last date for bid submission is December 20. The state government will not take any stake and only earn revenue share from the project, the official said.
At present, Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (erstwhile Trust) comprising of two facilities — Kolkata Dock System (KDS) and Haldia Dock Complex (HDC)) — are the major ports in West Bengal. However Kolkatta port is a riverine port and faces perennial draft problem that prevents large carriers from entering the port.
The project which was initially supposed to be developed jointly by the central and state governments has remained a non-starter.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the state government will execute the Rs 15,000-crore greenfield port project on its own in the PPP model claiming that the Centre has been ''inordinately delaying'' it, a charge denied by the Kolkata Port Trust which was the project partner on behalf of the Union government.
The Centre, on the other hand, asserted that it had made a proposal to the state on building the port jointly but did not get an answer. The state government earlier indicated that it had identified 1200 acres of land at Dadanpatrabar near Tajpur.
(With Inputs from PTI)
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