Kochi outer harbour to boost Kerala’s economic growth

 Cochin Port Trust plans to develop an outer harbour off Puthuvypeen SEZ with an investment of more than `20,000 crore. It is expected that the GDP of Kerala will substantially increase due to the establishment of various projects in the outer harbour
 After putting up India’s first container transhipment terminal with a private partner, Union Government-owned Cochin Port Trust has intended to develop an outer harbour in Puthuvypeen SEZ. Outer harbour is a major strategic government project, looking to create a world-class working harbour destination on the city’s doorstep.
The outer harbour project involves constructing two breakwaters on both sides of the approach channel, extending about 7 km into the sea, with associated land masses on either side.
PlanAccording to conceptual studies of IIT, Madras and Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), the development of outer harbour is technically and financially feasible. “Cochin Port had entrusted i-maritime Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. with preparing a feasibility report for the outer harbour project. As per the feasibility report, it is proposed that 2 breakwaters on both sides of the approach channel can be constructed, and it would be possible to reclaim about 2,600 acres of land inside the northern breakwater and about 650 acres inside the southern breakwater,” says G P Rai, Chief Engineer, Cochin Port Trust.
Apart from the port facilities, consultants have acknowledged different business activities in the 2,600 acres of land the northern breakwater. “The port has already floated an EoI (Expression of Interest) for setting up of an export oriented refinery or oil trading hub. The outer harbour will also have an oil rig fabrication facility, free-trade warehousing zone and an ultramega power plant,” adds Mr Rai.Indian Navy too has shown interest in setting up of their station in the 650 acres of land inside the southern breakwater and is keen to co-partner Cochin Port Trust in the project.
AdvantagesCoastal erosion is a major problem in and around Fort Kochi. Technical studies have shown that the breakwaters will stop coastal erosion. “As per the studies conducted by CWPRS on construction of both breakwaters, there would be beach nourishment instead of coastal erosion. In fact, after 10 years of the development, the shore advancement on northern side would be in the range of 100-200 metres into the sea,” narrates Mr Rai.
Sand will also be accumulated at the shore in the shadow side of the south breakwater and the accumulation would be of the order of 50-100 metres in 10 years. This sand accumulation would be helpful in protecting the eroding coastline in the region of Fort Kochi.
The port witnesses severe siltation because of the severe problem of morphological changes on the coast. The development of breakwaters will help in reducing siltation at the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) and inner harbour. The expected overall reduction in siltation is of the order of 30-40 per cent. “The total siltation is estimated to be 12 million cubic metre for the inner and outer harbour including ICTT and LNG basin, against the present siltation of 21 million cubic metre,” says Mr Rai.
The construction of breakwaters will also pave way for the development deep draft berth projects to Cochin Port.
Economical boost The multicrore outer harbour project is also expected to boost Kerala, economically. “Development of export oriented refinery or oil-trading hub and other units in the outer harbour will generate employment potential for the people of Kerala. Also, the GDP of Kerala will substantially increase due to the establishment of various projects in the outer harbour,” predicts Mr Rai.
The oil refinery and the oil-trading hub will be a part of the port-based special economic zone, free trade and warehousing zone which give investors a wide range of fiscal benefits.
Funding and investmentCommenting about the funds, Mr Rai says, “Southern arm of the outer harbour is expected to be funded by the Indian Navy. Port is looking for various funding options, and funding pattern will be finalised only after evaluation of EoI, which may be viability gap funding from the Government of India or loan from international funding agencies like JICA and World Bank, or full funding by private entrepreneurs. The total investment expected is `20,000 crore, excluding the cost of export oriented refinery/ oil-trading hub.
The first phase of the project which includes two breakwaters and land reclamation is slated to complete in 2017.

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