Tamil Nadu Government and industry experts favored the setting up a transshipment hub at VOC Port since all other options tried out by the shipping ministry have been tried out and failed.
The issue figured prominently at the Maritime PPP conclave Chennai which concluded on July 22nd
Tamil Nadu’s additional chief secretary (Finance) N.Muruganandam, emphasised on developing the VO Chidambaranar Port in Thoothukudi as a major container trans-shipment port. He says the port has better connectivity and is ideally located, and can be an alternative to Colombo in attracting trans-shipment containers.
About 75 per cent of Indian ExIM cargo is trans-shipped through Singapore, Colombo or Port Klang ports.
The Government of India and all the authorities have been hunting for a trans-shipment port, without realizing the suitability of the VOC port. It is the most strategically located for trans-shipment being close to international maritime routes; with an excellent ecosystem, and good labor relations and operational efficiency. The VOC Port is best-positioned to be a trans-shipment port, he said at a seminar on maritime PPP conclave 2022. “
However, we are ignoring that, and going all around the place — whether Vizag , Kochi or Vizhinjam andof late Nicobar islands can come up. We will go nowhere because Vizhinjam has no ecosystem; we have to develop the ecosystem; Vizag is too far away from the maritime route; and Kochi has not picked up though the transshipment terminal was built 14 years ago.
Unless we focus on the VOC port and develop it as a trans-shipment port, I don’t think there is any future to have our own trans-shipment port in India. We will continue to move through Colombo or Singapore as we are moving now,” he said.
Shipping minister Sarabananda Sonawal however has not included VOC port even as a proposal to set up a transshipment hub. In a written answer in the Rajya sabha two days ago the Union minister said the central government proposed to develop transshipment facilities at Cochin port besides developing a Greenfield transshipment terminal at Nicobar islands. VOC Port is not on the radar of the government in terms of putting up a transshipment hub.