Bangalore: Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd, the entity that runs the Pipavav port in Gujarat, has survived a scare after the environment clearance granted to the firm in June 2012 for expansion and modernization of the port was re-validated by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) in the Union ministry of environment and forests.

This is among the four port projects involving a combined investment of about 10,000 crore that were granted environment clearances.

Mumbai-listed Gujarat Pipavav Port is 43.01% owned by APM Terminals Management BV, the world’s third-biggest container port operator and a unit of Danish shipping and energy giant AP Moller-Maersk Group A/S. The group also operates Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company.

The original environment clearance granted to the firm on 5 June 2012 was challenged before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on grounds that the proposed expansion would adversely affect mangrove forests and migratory birds. NGT allowed the appeal and ordered to keep the clearance in abeyance; the matter was remitted to the Expert Appraisal Committee for re-consideration of appraisal.

After examining the details submitted by the firm, EAC recommended grant of environment clearance to the port at a meeting held between 20 and 23 November, according to the minutes of the EAC meeting put up on the website of the ministry of environment and forests.

During the meeting, EAC also granted environment and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance to Vizhinjam International Container Transhipment Terminal being developed with private funds at Vizhinjam in Kerala by the state government.

A container transshipment terminal acts like a hub, into which smaller feeder vessels bring cargo that then gets loaded onto larger ships. Larger vessels bring about economies of scale, and lower the cost of operations for shipping lines, which translate into lower freight rates for exporters and importers.

Petronet LNG Ltd, India’s biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), was granted environment clearance for setting up a 10 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) LNG import and re-gasification terminal at Gangavaram port in Andhra Pradesh.

EAC also gave environment clearance to state-run oil refiner Indian Oil Corp. Ltd for setting up a 5 mmtpa LNG import and re-gasification terminal at Ennore port in Tamil Nadu, according to the website of the environment ministry.

The LNG terminals planned at Gangavaram and Ennore would be the first on India’s eastern coast.

India currently has four LNG re-gasification terminals at Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat and Dahol in Maharashtra and Kochi in Kerala, all on the country’s western seaboard.

The four projects are among the many planned by India to raise its port capacity to 3.2 billion tonnes by 2020 from the existing 1.26 billion tonnes to meet demand for cargo. However, delays in getting environment and forest clearances have tripped several port projects, according to the shipping ministry.

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