A meeting of national-level fishing associations has resolved to oppose the construction of the Vadhavan Port in Maharashtra's Palghar district.
The port, estimated to cost Rs 65,545 crore, is proposed to be constructed at Vadhavan, near Dahanu in Palghar district on the Gujarat border. The Vadhavan Port will be located at a distance of 140km from Mumbai and 150km from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
Upon completion, the port will catapult India among countries with the top 10 container ports in the world. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Maharashtra Maritime Board will execute the project jointly. The port is part of the NDA Government's ambitious Sagarmala program.
In Feb 2020, the proposal to create the huge port – on a ‘landlord model’ – was cleared during a Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF)'s Leo Colaco said that fishing outfits will be launching an 'All India Machimaar Sangarsh Yatra' to protest against the grabbing of coastal and marine resources away from the people and will oppose the construction of Vadhavan Port as part of this movement.
Colaco claimed that the livelihoods of over 1.4 crore fisherfolk nationwide were in danger due to corporate moves of the Centre, which include bringing in 'anti-fisherfolk and resource grab' initiatives like Blue Economy Policy 2021, National Fisheries Policy 2020, Coastal Regulation Zone 2019 Notification and 2021 Amendment, Indian Marine Fisheries Bill 2021, Major Ports Authority Act 2021, Sagarmala programme etc.
The Sagarmala project is an ambitious project of the Modi government that envisages transforming existing ports into modern world-class ports and developing new top-notch ports based on the requirement. It also aims to efficiently integrate ports with industrial clusters, the hinterland and the evacuation systems through road, rail, inland and coastal waterways. The projects aim to enable ports to drive economic activity in coastal areas.
About the proposed Vadhavan Port
Maharashtra has two major ports, i.e. Mumbai and JNPT, which cater to the hinterland of Maharashtra, including NCR, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP. Out of these ports, Mumbai port has had constraints in the evacuation of cargo for the past several decades due to the development of the city around it and the availability of limited depths in the harbour. JNPT was developed as a satellite port of Mumbai port and has coped up well in becoming the country's largest container port.
The greenfield port is expected to cater to spillover traffic from the JNPT port once its expanded capacity of 10 million TEUs is fully utilized. However, since Vadhavan is closer to South Gujarat and parts of Madhya Pradesh (e.g., Vapi, Surat, Ahmedabad, and Indore) as compared to JNPT, it is likely to attract a part of the total traffic from the hinterlands even before JNPT reaches full capacity utilization.
According to the initial plan, Vadhavan will handle ~0.8 MTEUs in its first year of operation. The traffic estimates for the subsequent few years are projected to be around 15 MTPA and increase to around 254 MTPA in 2038 (million metric tonnes per annum).
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