ICTT Vallarpadam: The Global Hub Terminal of India

Manmohan Singh, current prime minister of India.

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By Sudha S Namboothiry
Media & Communication Officer, Press Information Bureau, Cochin

Cochin, Feb 14, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB-India) The largest and India’s first global hub terminal, the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam off Cochin coast, Kerala was dedicated to the Nation by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India here today. The foundation stone of the terminal was laid by the Prime Minister six years ago in January 2005. Built at a cost of more than Rs. 3000 crores including all the infrastructure facilities, this terminal is expected to bring down the freight cost of India’s international trade substantially.

Before the launch of ICTT ,Vallarpadam, a small idyllic island on the Vembanad Lake with a serene atmosphere, was famous as major Catholic Pilgrim Centre. The historic church of Our Lady of Ransom was built by Portuguese missionaries in 1524. It is said that the missionaries discovered a painting of the Lady of Ransom and later in a dream, they were asked to establish a church at Vallarpadam. Many miracles have been attributed to the church. It is believed that people are being saved from accidents at sea. This Church forms part of the diocese of Verapoly and revered by Catholics as a very sacred church. The original building was destroyed by floods in the 17th century and rebuilt later. The present building is said to have built in 1676. Today rightfully the island is going to be famous for its global positioning in transshipment trade.

The modern terminal with its hi-tech cargo handling equipment is the first in the country to operate in a special economic zone. Strategically located on the main east-west global shipping lines and offering draft of 14.5 m, Cochin is certain to develop as the premier gateway to South India. Today over 45% of the country’s containerized cargo is transshipped through Colombo, Dubai or Singapore. Vallarpadam promises to change the scene by enabling shipping lines to offer direct services to shippers. This will help the shippers save Rs. 10,000 per TEU. The terminal will be able to accommodate large size vessels of 8000 TEU and above. ICTT will not only help bring in more cargo to Cochin port but also enhance the demand for allied activities such as warehousing, transportation and freight forwarding in and around Cochin.

ICTT is to be completed in three phases. The terminal with a 600-meter long quey and a water-depth of more than 15 meter, in the first phase will be able to handle one million 20 –feet containers (TEUs) annually. There are at present four number of Quay Cranes and 11 numbers of Rubber Tyred Gantry Cranes apart from stacking area and 450 Reefer plug points. The capacity will be enhanced to 1.5 million TEUs in the second phase, once fully commissioned the capacity will be 3 million TEUs.

In 2005, the container terminal was awarded on BOT basis to DP World, the Dubai Government owned international terminal operators. But it was the responsibility of the Cochin Port Trust to develop road, rail and other infrastructure to hinterland connectivity. Including the cost of dredging, an amount of over Rs. 1,700 crore was spent by CPT and DP World invested more than Rs. 1,600 crore in the project. DP World will share 33.30 % of the revenue from this terminal with Cochin Port Trust. For DP World, which is already running five terminals across the country, Vallarpadam will be a big boost to its business as it is expected to help take up the group’s all-India traffic share to 50%from the present 42%. It is also developing another terminal at Kulpi in West Bengal.

The Vallarpadam railway link in Cochin is the longest rail bridge in India. The 4.62 km rail bridge is part of the 8.86 km rail corridor connecting the ICTT with Edappally, a suburb in Cochin city. This bridge surpasses the 3.065 km –long Nehru Setu Bridge on the Sone River in Bihar, the second longest railway bridge in the country. The longest Railway bridge of 4.62Km was made ready in a period of 2 years which equates to building 190 m of bridge per month or 6.3 m of bridge every day. An enviable record considering the fact that about 80 % of this bridge is built in the back waters. This bridge is constructed over pile foundations at 133 locations. The bridge has 132 spans consisting of 33 spans of 20m and 99 spans of 40m which is made of PSC girders and caters to electric traction. A total of 231 girders, each girder weighing 220 tonnes have been cast at Vallarpadam and were transported to the location through motorized trolleys and launched in position by the completely automatic launching girder which was fabricated and imported from China. This assumes importance since the bridge runs mostly over the back waters. Latest design concrete sleepers, modern rail fastenings and head hardened rails are being utilized to construct the track over the bridge. The bridge took 18000 tonnes of steel, 50000 tonnes of cement and is founded over piles totaling to about 64000 m for the complete bridge put together including foundation for the future track. Concerted efforts of about 700 workers every day and 50 engineers of the contractors under the supervision of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited have made this a reality.

The rail-link forms a crucial project for commissioning operations of the ICTT as it will be exclusively used for goods container traffic to and from the terminal. A successful trial run was conducted on March 31,2010 on the route. The railway line and allied infrastructure were built at a cost of Rs. 350 crore and was entirely funded by the Central Government through the Ministry of Shipping. The client for the railway line project was Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL), a Public Sector undertaking of Indian Railways.

Vallarpadam Island where the International Container Transhipment Terminal is located is connected to main land by constructing bridges across the bays connecting Vypeen Island with Vallarpadam, Vallarpadam with Bolghatty Island and Bolghatty Island with Ernakulam Town and which had been done by Goshree Island Development Authority. With the functioning of the new ICTT at Vallarpadam the intensity of vehicular traffic over this route will be very high and will cause continuous traffic blockage. Hence, an alternate proposal for connecting Vallarpadam with NH 47 and NH17 was proposed by constructing this Project Corridor. The new NH connectivity to the terminal at Vallarpadam comprising of four lane road and bridges with a route length of 17.2 km from Kalamassery to Vallarpadam is executed by NHAI. The estimated cost is Rs. 872 crores. The connectivity comprises of a Fly-Over along NH 47, 11 Major Bridges and a Minor Bridge across back waters connecting various islands. Cochin Port Trust was entrusted with the work of handing over of 6.70 Km of land by dredging in the back waters and forming embankment along the back waters, which was completed by the Port in August 2009. Two lane connectivity was completed in October 2010 and work of the additional two lanes is in progress. Tentative target date of final completion of the Project has been assessed as December 31, 2013.

The ICTT has kicked start a new era in the history of Cochin and this will bring many more feathers in the hats of the Cochin port and Kerala as a whole. The project triggered launch of a series of ventures including the Rs.1,600 crore LNG terminal, the 1,510 crore port based Special Economic Zone, the Rs. 315 crore International Ship Repair Complex, the Rs.720 crore single buoy moorings for Kochi Refineries Ltd, the Rs. 7000 crore petro chemical complex for Gas Authority of India, an international bunkering terminal, bulk cargo terminals, cruise ship terminals and an international marina. For Dr. N Ramachnadran, it’s a dream come true. When he joined Cochin Port as its chairman in 2005, the Vallarpadam container was just a project on paper. He accepts there have been many hurdles right from getting clearances, approvals, fund raising, land acquisition etc but all together it was a fulfilling experience. Recognizing his contribution, his term was extended so that he could witness its commissioning. Today, after six years the terminal has become a reality.

(PIB Features)

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