Ahmedabad: Gujarat government has started work on reviving two greenfield port projects, which had failed to take off due to various reasons, said two senior state government officials in the know of the development.

The projects may require an investment of 6,000-6,500 crore and the government is looking to bring in private developers ahead of the 2019 edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit, slated to be held in Gandhinagar in January. This is to ensure that project agreements can be signed at the event, said one of the two officials, requesting anonymity.

Gujarat Maritime Board has already invited bids for appointing transaction advisers for the two ports, he added.

The proposed Mithivirdi port was scrapped about eight years ago to make way for a 6,000MW nuclear power plant. However, in its May 2017 order, the National Green Tribunal had asked the Nuclear Power Corp. of India to move the project from Gujarat to Andhra Pradesh, following protests by the locals, who had also refused to give up their land.

The state maritime regulator is also planning to revisit its plans for setting up the proposed greenfield port at Vansi Borsi near Surat. The project has been stuck for about 10 years because of the submarine gas pipeline passing through the area.

“ONGC had a pipeline for transporting gas from one of its offshore fields. It came in the way of our port project. But now we have worked out a design, wherein the port activities can be developed without affecting the pipeline. The cost for developing Vansi Borsi port would be 4,000 crore, while the Mithivirdi port project will cost 2,000-2,500 crore," said a Gujarat Maritime Board official, requesting anonymity. The two ports will initially have a cargo handling capacity of 5-10 million tonnes.

The proposed multi-purpose, all-weather ports will have direct berthing facilities and draughts of 13-15 metres.

“Mithivirdi was originally proposed to be a steel port with the aim to cater to the demands of nearby Alang ship breaking and ship recycling yard. However, one can today look at setting up an LNG/LPG import terminal here. Vansi Borsi was earlier projected to handle petroleum, oil and chemical cargo due to its proximity to chemical clusters at that time. The market for such cargo exists even today although a developer can also try and look at setting up a container terminal facility here," said a Mumbai-based industry expert, requesting anonymity.

Gujarat has close to 48 non-major ports (not controlled by the Union government) and handle close to one-thirds of the country’s total cargo. In 2017-18, the GMB-regulated ports registered growth of 7.24% and handled 370.7 million metric tonnes of cargo.

An Ahmedabad-based industry expert said the government should focus more on developing and expanding existing ports rather than going for green-field projects.

“Getting traffic in Saurashtra and South Gujarat, where the two new ports are being planned, will be a major challenge because there is enough port capacity in the region. Apart from the huge investment for setting up the supporting infrastructure, such as roads and railway connectivity, there are lots of concerns regarding environment damage in developing a green field port project," the industry official said.

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