India's first foreshore port planned

Around 5,000 acres will be reclaimed from the sea for the Vadhavan port, which will be India's first foreshore port. It is proposed 140 km north of Mumbai in Dahanu taluka of Palghar district. The JNPT has a 74% equity stake in the port. The other 26% is held by the Maharashtra Maritime Board. The Maharashtra government in November last year wrote to the ministry of environment and forests and climate change to exclude the proposed port from the Dahanu eco-sensitive zone as it is a foreshore facility. The stakeholders have also said it should not be categorized as an industry .

Around 500 acres is only being acquired to build road and rail connectivity to and from the port. The local populace is in favour of the port as there is no development in the area on account of the 1991 eco-sensitive zone notification.

The detailed project report is being prepared by a joint venture between an Indian and Spanish firm and will be ready by July this year.

The project will be completed in two phases and is estimated to cost Rs.5,000-6,000 crore. The port is being developed as a satellite port to JNPT. Mumbai port will eventually handle non-polluting cargo, JNPT handles container cargo, and the Vadhavan port will be for general cargo.

On the advantages of the proposed Vadhavan port is that it has a natural draft of 20 meters. A deeper draft would allow larger bulk carriers to come closer to the port com pared to those which call at JNPT and Mumbai ports, which have an average draft of 14-15 meters. It is also close to the Western Railway, has access to national highway number 8 and will be linked to the Dedicated Freight Corridor.

If all goes according to plan, the phase I handling 25 million tonnes will be commissioned by 2025. The entire project will be completed over five phases and is estimated to cost Rs.30,000 crore. The reclamation will happen over five phases. For phase 1, JNPT will in vest Rs.3,500 crore to build the breakwater and yard. The other phases will be completed through public-private partnership, and a private operator will be appointed to run operations, and JNPT will collect royalty.

The fishing community is, however, strongly opposed to the proposed port.

The Dahanu ecosensitive zone is one of eight in the country and created on the orders of the Supreme Court.

The fishermen have already begun holding protest marches and demonstrations in Palghar district. They have now written to the Dahanu Environment Protection Authority against the proposed port.

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