The year long economic crisis in Sri Lanka and consequent reduction in business in Colombo port has not helped the Ports in Southern India to increase their cargo volumes whether it is the Vallarpadem International transshipment terminal of the Cochin Port or the VOC Port Tuticorin.
While the two container terminals of VOC Port Tuticorin ended up handling less than Six lakh TEUs during the last financial year 2022-23, the situation is no better in the Vallapadem International transshipment terminal in Cochin port where Government of India has invested nearly ten thousand crores in creating a Green field container terminal at Vallarpadem nearly 15 years ago
The volume of container handling at ICTT dropped to 6.95 lakh TEUs in 2022-23 which has caused concern among the port authorities.
The Vallarpadem container terminal has failed to utilize the infrastructure facilities provided through huge investment from the Government of India. The Cochin Port is spending Rs 140 crore annually to maintain the required draft of 14.5 meters at the terminal through maintenance dredging due to heavy siltation at the port a regular phenomenon in this area. Besides a sum of Rs 60 crore is being granted as concessions on Vessel Related Charges (VRC) free of cost to shipping companies by the port for making the terminal competitive and attracting ships.ATThe teds by
The Vallarpadem terminal has remained a flop in so far as attracting transshipment cargo for which the facility was created according to industry sources. The Green field terminal project was cleared despite the stiff opposition from the then Union Shipping ministry when it was conceived way back in 2007. The ministry was of the view that the state has no major industry to support the terminal and had also pointed out the chronic problem of siltation adding up to cargo handling costs. The terminal is also far away from the east west trade route and hence liner vessels will not be interested in a call. Pressure was exerted by a top official of the then Prime minister’s office who belonged to the state. The ministry succumbed to the pressure and conceded the project.
Cochin Port Authority has handled 35.255 million tons of cargo through other berths in the financial year that ended on March 31st.
Union shipping minister had informed the Rajya Sabha last month that the Cochin port had incurred a loss of Rs 577.23 crores on account of offering concessions in Vessel Related Charges in an attempt to attract call by liner vessels to the port