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Centre government’s plan to develop Thoothukudi Port hailed

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Expedite outer harbour project, says trade body

Tuticorin Hub Port Development Council and trade bodies here have hailed the Central government’s approval of Rs. 1 lakh crore for developing highways and ports in Tamil Nadu.

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The Ministry of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping had approved Rs. 3,000 crore for dredging and constructing additional berths at V.O. Chidambaranar Port.

Better infrastructure would spur development in the inner harbour. With the growth in containerised cargo traffic, this port needed more berths, T. Johnson, president, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Thoothukudi, said here on Saturday.

The THPDC, which was formed 15 years ago, comprising members of trade bodies, had been stressing the need for developing the outer harbour as it would boost industrial growth in the region and generate job opportunities on a large scale. But the Centre had planned to develop the outer harbour project in the second phase. The outer harbour project should be expedited so that Thoothukudi could compete with Singapore and Colombo ports.

Since the draft at the VOC Port was not deep enough, almost 60% of transshipment cargo was routed through Colombo. It had resulted in losing foreign exchange revenue, Mr. Johnson.

VOC Port had 12.8 metre draft. If it had 16 to 18 metre draft as in Colombo Port, panamax mainline container vessels could be accommodated, he added.

G.P. Joe Prakash, president, All India Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said dry docking facility must be established here, the absence of which had favoured Colombo, Singapore and Dubai ports.

R. Edwin Samuel, vice-president, ICCI, said since VOC Port was an all-weather port, it could become the most preferred destination for Export-Import traders in the southern region.

To cope with the growing cargo volume at VOC Port, the Madurai –Thoothukudi four-lane highway should be expanded to six or eight lane road, J.P. Joe Villavarayar, president, Tuticorin Ship Agents Association, said.

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