Government Plans Bid Invitation for Extensive Transshipment Hub Project at Great Nicobar in February

Indian Government Set to Solicit Bids for Mammoth Transshipment Hub at Great Nicobar in February.

In a major development for the Great Nicobar region, the Indian government is poised to invite tenders for an expansive transshipment hub project in February. Valued at an estimated Rs. 18,000 crore for its initial phase, the proposed international container transshipment terminal seeks to bolster India’s global shipping presence.

Leading this initiative, Sarbananda Sonowal, the Minister of Shipping, Ports, and Inland Waterways, revealed that nearly a dozen entities have expressed interest in the project. The tender invitation process will proceed once the terms are finalized.

The Ministry of Shipping, Ports, and Inland Waterways is gearing up to draft a cabinet note for this public-private partnership venture, anticipating approval within the next three to four weeks. Subsequently, tenders for the inaugural phase of the project, envisioned at Rs. 43,700 crore, will be issued.

An anonymous official from the shipping ministry indicated that the bidding process is likely to conclude within the first quarter of FY25. The comprehensive project, designed in four phases, demands an initial investment of Rs. 18,000 crore to facilitate a capacity of four million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) or 60 million tonnes of containerized cargo. The infrastructure blueprint includes berthing facilities, worker townships, and a breakwater facility for ships.

While officials project a 28-year timeline for the project’s completion, this duration may shorten based on the business volume the hub attracts.

Initially slated for launch in 2022 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement in 2020, the Great Nicobar transshipment project faced delays due to environmental clearances and opposition from environmentalists. However, these obstacles have now been resolved.

Strategically positioned along the international sea route, merely 40 nautical miles away, the proposed hub at Great Nicobar holds pivotal importance. Its natural draft of 20 meters is conducive for docking large ships. Notably, other existing terminals on this route include Singapore, Klang, and Colombo.

The project is a key element of the larger Rs. 72,000-crore Great Nicobar initiative, encompassing an international airport, township development, and a gas and solar power plant spread across 16,610 hectares on the island.

The primary focus of the first phase involves establishing port infrastructure such as breakwaters, berths, storage areas, buildings, utilities, and container and cargo handling equipment. Operating as a public-private partnership (PPP) venture, the government will facilitate core infrastructure development, while private entities will operate the port and container services for 30-50 years, sharing revenue with the government.

Great Nicobar holds strategic significance for India, as more than 75% of the country’s transshipment cargo is currently handled by ports outside its borders. The proposed facility in Great Nicobar aims to absorb a significant portion of this cargo, along with international shipments traversing other supply routes.

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