The outer harbour project announced by the Centre some years ago still remains a distant dream, many Exim (export –import) traders feel.
It would certainly benefit the Exim community, boost exports and earn foreign exchange for the country, if the ‘outer harbour’, with 18-metre draught, was commissioned in Thoothukudi seaport. Hence, the Shipping Ministry should consider it seriously and take up the project at the earliest, D.R. Kodeeswaran, secretary, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Thoothukudi, told here.
In the Union Budget 2015, funds to the tune of Rs. 11,635 crore were announced for the first phase of outer harbour project in V.O.C Port with a total cost involvement of Rs. 23,432 crore by 2043.
The Chamber hailed the announcement and the people in the region were overjoyed. The much-awaited project would not only boost the capacity of the port but also improve the economy of the region.
About 70% of Indian cargo was currently transshipped through Colombo Port, which increased the transaction cost and consumed much time of Indian Exim trade.
This had triggered an outflow of valuable foreign exchange, since the transshipment costs were being paid in US dollars.
Citing these shortcomings, Mr. Kodeeswaran said the outer harbour project, if made viable, would divert a major portion of Indian sub-continental traffic to Thoothukudi.
Besides, focus areas should include ‘International Container Transshipment Hub’, considering the proximity to international maritime route, and ‘Coastal Shipping Hub’, by leveraging the realigned ‘Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project’ to connect other ports at Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Rameswaram, Valinokkam, Mandappam and Colachel. He said the Chamber submitted a memorandum to Gopal Krishna, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, for port development recently.