Adani Group Set To Start Work On West Bengal's Greenfield Tajpur Deep-Sea Port Soon

by Swarajya Staff - Sep 19, 2022 06:33 PM +05:30 IST
Adani Group Set To Start Work On West Bengal's Greenfield Tajpur Deep-Sea Port SoonBengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Adani Group chief Gautam Adani.
Snapshot
  • Tajpur will be the second port project that the Adani Group is set to manage in Bengal. It recently took up modernisation and operation of a berth in Haldia.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), India’s largest port operator, will soon start work on West Bengal government’s greenfield deep-sea port project at Tajpur with an investment of Rs 25,000 crore.

This was announced by Firhad Hakim, state's Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs.

"Work on Bengal's first deep-sea port and India's first greenfield port to begin soon in Tajpur by Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone... It'll create employment opportunities for 25,000 people and bring development," the minister was quoted by ANI as saying.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Adani Group’s disqualification from the Visakhapatnam Port project cannot be treated as an “ineligibility” that bars it from bidding for other port projects.

A bench of justices M R Shah and Krishna Murari upheld an earlier order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court that the termination of a concession agreement between Adani and the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) will not act as a disqualification for APSEZ from participating in future tenders floated by public bodies.

The termination of the contract by VPT had a cascading effect on APSEZ. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) of Mumbai had disqualified Adani from a global tender to operate and maintain a container terminal in Navi Mumbai citing the termination by VPT as a reason.

In March this year, APSEZ emerged as the highest bidder in a public tender floated by West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) for the greenfield development of Tajpur port. Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group also participated in the bid.

While JSW Infrastructure Limited reportedly offered to pay 0.23 per cent of the gross revenue realised from the port, APSEZ offered to pay a modestly higher amount — 0.25 per cent of the gross revenue — to the government.

In October 2021, the West Bengal government invited 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 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 during a previous round of bid, the state government offered ''better'' conditions such as 1,000 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, a West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) official said. WBIDC serves as the state’s nodal body for industrialisation.

The state government is also proposing to invest Rs 4,200 crore on this project.

In December 2020, the West Bengal Maritime Board called for letters of intent from firms interested in developing the proposed port but the response was lukewarm.

Previously, the state government had proposed that the port be built on reclaimed land as it was against forcible land acquisition for industry.

''Now, the state government is offering 1,000 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 WBIDC and the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) also significantly brightened the prospects for the proposed port. 1,000 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.

Several port developers, who had shown initial interest in the Tajpur project, 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.

Tajpur will be the second port project that the Adani Group is set to manage in Bengal. It recently took up modernisation and operation of a berth in Haldia.

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