New DelhiWith Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal approve of India’s eastern region is set to become a hub of trade and investment by issuing a letter of intent to the Adani Group on Monday for the development of the Tajpur port. Analysts in the shipping sector told ThePrint that the deep sea port is expected to ensure smooth access to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
The West Bengal Maritime Board will soon hand over the letter of intent to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), India’s largest port operator and wholly owned subsidiary of Adani Ports. The development of the port will entail an investment of Rs 25,000 crore.
APSEZ was the highest bidder against a request for a proposed proposal for the development of the port by the Department of Industries, Commerce and Enterprises of the Government of West Bengal last October. But since then the state government was slow in approving the letter of intent to the APSEZ. Following the letter of intent, the formal award of the contract will be made to Adani Ports.
Approval for the letter of intent comes close on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling On 5 September, which observed that the Adani Group’s disqualification from a port project in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh should not be treated as a “disqualification” that precludes it from bidding for other port projects.
While Tajpur will be the second largest port in West Bengal, after Kolkata Port – now known as Syama Prasad Mukherjee Port (SMP) – it will be Bengal’s first greenfield port in nearly half a century. A greenfield project is one in which construction takes place on unused land, where there is no need to remodel or demolish the existing structure.
other than SMP, which is a major portThere are also a handful of small ports in the state. SMP handled 61.36 Million Tonnes (MT) cargo traffic during 2020-21 fifth highest One of the 12 major ports of India. It also handled the largest number of ships during this period.
Apart from SMP, other major ports in the Eastern Region include Paradip Port in Odisha.
According to the West Bengal government and experts in the maritime sector, the Tajpur Deep Sea Port will act as a sea gateway to not only the state, but the entire eastern region. State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told ThePrint that the tide of development is on the way to Bengal through the Tajpur port.
“This is indeed a historic moment for Bengal, it will bring massive employment opportunities and a wave of progress in Bengal. CM will organize an event very soon and serve the letter of intent. We will get to see the first deep sea port in Bengal.
APSEZ had emerged as the highest bidder in February 2021 for the mechanization of a berth at Haldia Dock Complex in Public Private Partnership mode. But they have not yet been awarded the contract by the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Port Trust.
‘Not just a port but a port-led development’
Tajpur Port is located about 200 km from Kolkata near Tajpur in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal. This will enable ‘Capesize’, the largest class of cargo ships weighing one lakh dry weight in tonnes (DWT) to call at the port. Maritime experts said this is important as the shallow draft has forced large ships to call ports in the state.
The Tajpur port will have a deep draft of 12.1 meters with a channel of 18 km. A tidal support of 3.9 m will enable large capsize vessels to call at port leading to a net 16 m draft facility.
Industry experts said Tajpur is not just a port but a “port-led development”.
“About 1,000 odd acres of land along the port will be given (to Adani) for setting up industry and other port-led developments. The quantum of investment is also quite significant,” said Jagnarayan Padmanabhan, director and practice leader, consulting, transport, mobility and logistics, CRISIL Market Intelligence & Analytics.
Padmanabhan said that, in the medium term, the port could facilitate a lot of coastal development.
“For example, if you want to go from West Bengal to Chennai, Kerala, Maharashtra… now you have an additional option, which may be. This could facilitate development on the Eastern Goods Development Corridor, which runs from Amritsar (in Punjab) to Dankuni (in West Bengal). With the arrival of Tajpur port, the integration of Dankuni to Kolkata can be considered further,” Padmanabhan said.
“It can facilitate a lot of exports… That belt has abundance of coal, iron ore and other minerals. It can give a big impetus to the overall development of the state. Also, when a port comes up, Road infrastructure will also improve, your rail infrastructure will also be upgraded,” he said.
Overall, the project will involve an investment of Rs 25,000 crore, said a statement issued by the West Bengal government. In addition, it will directly create 25,000 and indirectly over one lakh jobs.
According to Padmanabhan, it is very important for the state that it comes through the deep sea port. “It is a sea gateway. Access to our neighboring countries like Bangladesh becomes very easy when you have your own port,” he said.
He said that from the coastline point of view, it would be difficult to squeeze any such port into the coastline due to technical issues like heavy siltation of Hooghly river in West Bengal. “Although you have a beach, you cannot have a deep water port. Tajpur port is a major port in that shoreline.”
Maritime experts told ThePrint that after a long time, a state maritime board was bidding for an entire port for development. He said this is important as it can give confidence to other state governments to take up similar projects.
(Edited by Polomi Banerjee)