Vizhinjam port commissioning another 3 years away

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much-awaited commissioning of Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd (AVPPL) is likely to take another close to three years more, according to company top officials.

Talking to analysts recently, Deepak Maheshwari, chief financial officer and head of Strategy at Adani Ports and SEZ, said the commissioning of the first phase of the Vizhinjam port is unlikely to take place before December 2022.

“We hope it to take place by the end of the calendar year 2022 – ie. before the close of the third quarter of FY2023, and hence the full year impact of the port’s operations will obvioulsy be available only in FY2024,” he said.

He also said while updating on other on-going projects taken up by the group, the Myanmar port, the first container terminal being developed by Adani Group outside India, will be completed by the first quarter of FY2022.

More than the economic angle, Vizhinjam port project has always given meat for multi-dimensional political debates in the state for the past couple of years, right from awarding the project to Adani group in 2015.

While the awarding of the project itself had kicked up a lot of dust at that time, it’s the delay in commissioning, which has been grabbing the headlines of late.

AVPPL owner Gautam Adani at the time of the commencement of the project on December 5, 2015, had said excitedly that the first ship would berth there on September 1, 2018, in a record time of less than 1,000 days though the original agreement had provided the time space of completing it in 1425 days from the awarding day.

But things never moved as Adanis wished as several deterrents came in their way in the form of shortage of materials and labour issues as was claimed by the company.

But now with deadlines getting revised quite number of times during the course of work, the initial ambitious announcements have been rendered meaningless.

Addressing reporters in Thiruvananthapuram in February last, Rajesh Jha, CEO, Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd, had said that the project would be commissioned in October 2020.

The company had since then revised the date of commissioning to December 2020, which had also obviously remained an unfulfilled undertaking on the part of the company.

As per the agreement, AVPPL is duty bound to pay a specific sum for each day of the delay. Sources had said that three letters written by AVPPL to the state government were ignored. After the fourth letter, the Kerala government reportedly decided to set up a committee to look into the matter.

The AVPPL had told the Kerala government that the shortage of limestone had delayed the building of breakwaters.

While the total length of the breakwater is 3.1 km, all that has been constructed till now is far less than half of that. The Adani group officials explained that the work at the port faced several unforeseen factors including local issues and the floods of two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.

Talking to businessbenchmark.news, Elias John, President  of Vizhinjam Motherport Action Samithi (V-mac), said that the alternate governments in charge of the affairs in the state hadn’t shown the right interest in pushing the project forward.

“The government should have put its foot down and invoked the penalty clause in order to make sure that the work on the project didn’t suffer,” Elias John added. The former State Ports Minister K.Babu, who oversaw the awarding of the project in 2015, said that for reasons unknown to him, the present government is not performing its part.

According to reports, Vizhinjam Port, estimated to cost Rs7,525 crore, once completed, would be one of India’s deepest ports and 80 per cent of the country’s cargo trans-shipments could take place from this port.

 

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