Kerala’s much-delayed flagship project, the Vizhinjam Port finally appears to be nearing completion, as state Ports Minister Ahamed Devarkovil on Saturday, July 23, said the first ship will berth in March 2023. “While the first ship will berth in March 2023, the first phase of the port will be commissioned in September 2023,” he said. The port is built by Adani Ports, and at the time of commencement of work on the port on December 5, 2015, group chief Gautam Adani had claimed then that the first ship will berth there on September 1, 2018, in a “record time” of less than 1,000 days.
The port project was inked when the Congress-led UDF government under Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was in power. A deal worth a whopping Rs 7,525 crore was inked between Adani Group and the Kerala government, however, the project faced several roadblocks and controversies. In 2017, Cyclone Okchi devastated the region and a portion of the constructed breakwater was washed away. Since then, the shortage of limestone, the most important raw material for the project, caused yet another delay. Further, the port saw continuous opposition from local fishing communities, who said that the construction and debris severely impacted the ability to find fish, thereby affecting their livelihoods.
According to the plan, once completed, the Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport project would be one of India’s deepest ports, and 80% of the country’s cargo trans-shipments would go through here. Adani Ports, which was the lone bidder for the project, had sought a Rs 1,635 crore grant for construction purposes. According to the agreement, Adani will operate the port for 40 years, extendable by 20 more years, while the state government will get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years.