Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's involvement has resulted in the rescheduling of the public hearing for the Vadhavan port project, shifting it from 22 December to 19 January.
The port, to be helmed by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), is located in the eco-sensitive Dahanu taluka in Maharashtra’s Palghar district.
While the project has received environmental clearances, public hearings in the Dahanu area were supposed this month. The hearings will address the dredging of 2,000 million cubic metres of sand off the Daman coast which will be used to reclaim the land for the port.
The project received a new lease of life when it received a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) on 31 July this year, following a comprehensive four-year examination by experts to ensure compliance with all environmental laws.
The application for NOC was one of the compliances mandated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) before going ahead with the project.
It enabled the port authority to proceed with the application to the Expert Appraisal Committee affiliated with the Environment Ministry, seeking clearances for environmental and coastal regulation zone aspects of the project.
Earlier this month, members of the Vadhavan Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti approached Shinde, expressing concerns that the project would adversely affect the livelihoods of a significant portion of the population.
According to their documents, the anticipated job creation was only around 1,000 positions. However, during a presentation, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) Chairman Sanjay Sethi assured that compensation would be provided to fishermen whose livelihoods would be impacted.
Representatives Vaibhav Vaze, Leo Colaco, and Narayan Patil pointed out that the documents provided by JNPA were in English, making it challenging for them to comprehend.
They also noted that the 650-page environmental impact report had been condensed to a 30-page summary. In response to these concerns, Shinde directed that the documents be made available in Marathi and recommended a one-month postponement of the public hearing, reports Economic Times.
Vadhavan: A Mega Port Near Mumbai
Maharashtra has only two major ports i.e. Mumbai and Jawahar Lal Nehru Port (JNPA). Mumbai Ports are constrained in the evacuation of cargo for the past several decades due to the development of the city around it as well as due to limited depths in the harbour which allows only small ships to berth.
The Arabian coast at Vadhvan towards the north of Mumbai is most suitable and ideal for the development of a new port where natural a depth of 20 Meters is available at a distance of about 4 ½ nautical miles.
The location is about 10 Km from the National Railway grid and about 35-40 Km from NH8.
The JNPA has proposed to develop Vadhvan Port along with the participation of Govt of Maharashtra and Maharashtra Maritime Board and an MOU was signed on 5 June 2015 to set up a new port at Vadhvan as a Major Port.
This port will be jointly implemented by JNPA and Maharashtra Maritime Board with a shareholding of 74 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. The port will be developed based on Landlord Port.
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in February 2020, had approved setting up Vadhavan Port under the Sagarmala Programme at a cost of Rs 65,544.54 crore.
Situated in a picturesque coastal tract, the Vadhavan Port has a natural draft of around 20 metre close to the shore, making it ideal for handling larger container vessels of 16,000-25,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) capacity, giving the advantages of economies of scale and reducing logistics costs.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Mundra — the two largest container handling major ports of the country — can handle only mid-size container ships as they have a draft of 15 metres and 16 metres, respectively. Compared to this, the world's largest container handling modern deep draft ports require a draft of 18-20 metre.
The ever-increasing size of container ships makes it imperative that a deep draft container port in the west coast of India is developed, to accommodate such ships.
The deep-draft port at Vadhavan will be able to handle various types of cargo like containers, liquid including LNG, break bulk cargo, etc as the natural advantage of a deeper draft of 20 metre will be availed.
The greenfield port at Vadhavan is also necessary to cater to the spillover traffic after JNPT’s planned capacity of 10 million TEUs is fully utilised.
The proposed deep draft port in Maharashtra is expected to have a container handling capacity of more than 23 million TEUs by 2040, thereby placing India on the global map of the top ten container ports.
To be built in phases, the port will handle 15 million TEU containers in the first phase and 23.2 million TEUs after the commissioning of its second phase.
According to the official, the Ministry will invest close to Rs 38,000 crore towards setting up basic infra, while a similar amount will come from private operators interested in operating the proposed deep-draft port.
On 5 June 2015, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra State government and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) to establish a new port at Vadhvan. This port is designated as a major port under the Indian Ports Act of 1908 by the Government of India.
Consequently, the Vadhavan Port Project Ltd - a joint venture between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority and the Maharashtra Maritime Board - with a shareholding of 74 per cent and 26 per cent respectively, will spearhead the development of the port project.
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