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First riverine project of State over Mahanadi stares at uncertainty

 The ambitious first riverine port project of the State over river Mahanadi has plunged into uncertainty.

Even as the State government had been striving hard to get the project kick started for last several years, the Centre seems to be in no mood to provide clearance for the same. Now the port project has been linked to development of National Waterways.  Senior officials reveal that now the feasibility of the riverine port depends on the navigability of river Mahanadi.

While the Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) had conducted the techno-feasibility study of the port and stated that it is eminently suitable to be developed as a riverine port, questions raised by Centre over its feasibility is not convincing, said a senior official. Now it is said that river Mahanadi has been declared National Waterway and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is conducting a fesibility study on its navigability.

Based on the outcome, the fate of riverine port will be decided, senior officials in the Ministry of Shipping informed. Since no timeline has been prescribed for the completion of the survey, delays in execution along with escalation of project cost have become imminent.

The proposed port was to come up at a cost of Rs 2,562 crore in Public Privatre Partnership (PPP) mode.  The project was found to be technically feasible and financially viable with an expected return of 14.36 per cent, said a senior official of the Commerce and Transport Department. The cargo handling capacity of the proposed project has been pegged at 55 million tonne per annum.

The proposed port was to be built on the river mouth of Mahanadi in the Mahakalpada block of Kendrapara district, just opposite the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd's (IFFCO) plant and Essar Steel Odisha Limited Complex near Paradip, official sources said. The port project would have catered to the needs of mineral-rich Odisha, as well as Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. It would have been a common user port for various industries and mines in these states.

While iron ore and pellets, raw fertiliser, alumina and raw crude oil will be imported through this port, finished crude oil, steel and steel products, chromite, mineral sand and bauxite would be shipped out, says the detailed project report.

The proposed port was to have rail and road connectivity from Paradip, which is fast emerging as an industrial hub.  While construction of the riverine port and development of National Waterway are not linked, tagging the port development proposal with development of Waterway has jeopardized the fate of the proposed first riverine port in the State, admit officials.


Précis 2017
From asking his party men to ‘live a simple life and serve the people’ to taunting the BJP for its ‘crocodile tears’, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has not only become politically invincible, he seems to be so in the coming years too.


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