Cochin Port Authority (CPA) is planning to go ahead with further deepening of the shipping channel with an aim to attract more vessels to the port. This is despite the negative growth registered in container handling in the financial year 2022-23 at Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT). The growth has been negative in most of the years since the project was commissioned around 2011.
The Central government had invested a sum of Eight thousand crores to beef up the Vallarpadem container terminal at Cochin port way back in 2008 brushing aside objections about the feasibility of the project by the top officials of the shipping ministry. While the project was envisaged as providing an alternative to transshipment at Colombo port, the fact remains that project has not yielded dividends for the past fifteen years.
The ports ministry had recently given in-principle approval to CPA for deepening draft depth at Vallarpadam ICTT. This is aimed at developing it as a successful transshipment hub of the region — to position as a competitor to Colombo — and to attain self-reliance in container transshipment. However, critics strongly contend that the project would put Cochin Port Authority in another round of financial crisis. The port’s employees’ organizations too demanded that CPA should not go ahead with the plan.
Despite opposition, CPA has now decided to appoint a team from IIT-Madras to conduct a detailed feasibility study on further deepening the channel to accommodate bigger ships at the port.