Bangalore: India’s largest private port and special economic zone, Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone Ltd, which is promoted by the Adani Group, has filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court after it was excluded from the bidding process for developing a fourth container terminal at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port, according to a person briefed on the matter.
The petition is slated to be heard on 13 April, this person said declining to be identified.
The litigation comes at a time JN Port is looking to set up a new container handling facility to boost capacity and ease congestion.
The port wants to develop, through private investments, a small container terminal with a berth length of 330 metres (half the normal length of 650-700m) with a capacity of 6 lakh standard containers a year.
Capacity constraints: Jawaharlal Nehru Port handles 60% of India’s container cargo but is restricted by capacity from handling any more. Ashesh Shah / Mint
Mumbai-listed Mundra port and SEZ Ltd had applied for the project along with Leighton Contractors (India) Pvt. Ltd and Adani Enterprises Ltd.
Spokespersons for both JN Port and Mundra port and SEZ Ltd declined comment.
The new case comes on the heels of another one that JN Port managed to avoid when the court refused to admit a writ petition filed by Mumbai-listed ABG Infralogistics Ltd against its disqualification from the bidding process, an executive at ABG said on condition of anonymity.
The port currently handles some 60% of India’s container cargo of about 7.85 million standard containers, but is restricted by capacity from handling any more.
In the year to March 2009, JN Port handled 3.95 million standard containers and is already operating at more than its designed capacity of 3.6 million standard containers.
JN Port has shortlisted only two entities for the new project from a list of nine that had applied last year.
This is despite the fact that government-owned ports have been allowed to shortlist up to six bidders for auctions to set up cargo handling terminals there.
The shortlisted firms are DP World Ltd, the world’s fourth biggest container port operator owned by the Dubai government, and a consortium comprising the Essar Group companies Vadinar Oil Terminal Ltd and Essar Ports and Terminals Ltd.
Those excluded from the auction include L&T Transport Project Pvt. Ltd, a unit of India’s biggest engineering and construction firm Larsen and Toubro Ltd; Grup Maritim TCB S.L-Eredene Capital Plc-Obrascon Huarte Lian SA-GE Mauritius International Holdings Ltd; Mundra Port and SEZ Ltd-Adani Enterprises Ltd-Leighton Contractors (India) Pvt. Ltd; IL&FS Maritime Infrastructure Co Ltd-Punj Lloyd Ltd-Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd.