All about India’s first mega transshipment container port at Great Nicobar Islands

India may soon get its first mega container transhipment port at the Galathea Bay, in Great Nicobar Islands, and according to officials at the Syama Prasad Mookherjee Port, Kolkata (SMPK), an Expression of Interest (EoI) for the same is expected to be floated by January-end. This would present India with exciting avenues considering that currently all international container cargo has to go to Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang in Malaysia.

The transhipment port would enable big ships to anchor and raise India’s share in maritime trade, create new job opportunities and save a lot of forex, officials stated. The EoI will be floated once the draft projects gets a nod from the Center.

“This Rs 17,000 crore port will help transhipment of cargo from the entire east coast of India as well as from Bangladesh and Myanmar,”

P L Haranadh, Chairman, Syama Prasad Mookherjee Port, Kolkata (SMPK)

“The EoI will help us seek their feedback from global port operators, maritime service majors and shipping liners. After this process, a detailed project report will be prepared for the project for seeking bids,” Haranadh said.

The Union Minister of State for Port and Shipping Shantanu Thakur recently paid a visit to Andaman and Nicobar Island and took a view of the development activities planned for the islanders with port-related infrastructure. According to reports, in January 2021, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), denotified the entire Galathea Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to remove environmental hurdles for the construction of a transhipment port.

In the first phase, the length of the jetty will be 1.6 kilometres and will have a capacity of 4.3 million TeU containers, which will later be ramped up to 16 million TeU. This will surpass the International Container Transshipment Terminal at Kochi (Kerela), which did not take off as expected. The new port terminal at Nicobar is expected to be developed on a much larger scale.

The natural depth available at Galathea Bay will be 20 meters. It will offer two geographical advantages — proximity to the busy east-west international shipping route that can facilitate shorter transits and greater economies of scale, along with deep natural water depths that can accommodate the latest generation of mega-ships.

The ambitious development plan for Great Nicobar Islands by NITI Aayog, which includes an airport, a port, a rapid transport system, and a trade complex, may see an overall investment of Rs 40,000 crore, Harandh said. Meanwhile, projects in SMPK valued at Rs 900 crore are under implementation and others worth another Rs 3,300 crore are in the final stage of tendering.

The Haldia multi-modal terminal being implemented by the Inland Waterways Authority of India will be inaugurated on Friday. It will boost cargo movement through inland waterways to the northeastern region and Bangladesh from Haldia port which is under SMPK.

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