Maharashtra: Rs 76,220 Crore Vadhavan Mega Container Port Gets Union Cabinet Approval

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jun 20, 2024, 01:02 PM | Updated 01:02 PM IST

Once completed, it will become India's largest container port by both capacity and draft (harbour depth). (JNPT)
Once completed, it will become India's largest container port by both capacity and draft (harbour depth). (JNPT)

The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the development of a deep-water port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra’s Palghar district.

The project, valued at Rs 76,220 crore, will be executed on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

First conceived 60 years ago, the Vadhavan port will be located along the Arabian coast, approximately 5 kilometres north of Mumbai. Once completed, it will become India's largest container port by both capacity and draft (harbour depth).

With a capacity to handle 23.2 million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) annually, Vadhavan port aims to revolutionise India's shipping industry. A TEU is a standard measurement for container capacity, representing a container that is 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet tall.

The port will boast a natural draft of 20 metres, surpassing the current maximum draft of 15.5 metres at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s largest container port. This deeper draft will facilitate the berthing of mega shipping vessels, reducing the need for dredging and lowering operational costs.

Union Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw highlighted the strategic importance of Vadhavan port at a press conference in New Delhi. He emphasised its role in the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) and noted that 37 per cent of India’s trade with Europe, North America, and Russia currently transits through the Suez Canal.

Vaishnaw stated, “The natural draft at Vadhavan port allows bigger vessels to berth, requiring less dredging and maintenance. It’s one of the most significant natural sites along India’s west coast,” reports Mint.

The development process involved extensive consultations with stakeholders, ensuring that local needs were addressed and numerous design adjustments were made.

The port will be constructed in two phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion by 2030, capable of handling 15 million TEUs. The second phase will be finished between 2035 and 2039.

India has 12 major ports and 200 minor ports. While the major ports fall under the Ministry of Shipping's control, the minor ports are governed by state maritime boards or state governments. Vadhavan will be Maharashtra’s third major port, joining Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and Mumbai port.

A Special Purpose Vehicle, Vadhavan Port Project Limited (VPPL), will oversee the port's development. VPPL is a joint venture between JNPA (74 per cent) and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (25 per cent).

Of the total investment, the SPV will contribute Rs 38,976 crore, with private developers providing the remaining Rs 37,344 crore. The port will feature nine container terminals, each approximately one kilometre long, as well as multiple multipurpose berths, liquid bulk berths, a Ro-Ro berth, and a coastguard berth.

The new port would alleviate congestion at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, which faces cargo evacuation constraints due to urban development and limited harbour depths.

V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.

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