Mangaluru: The Administration of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep signed an MOU with the Government of Karnataka for the construction of a dedicated berth for Lakshadweep vessels at the Old Mangalore Port in the presence of Baburao Chinchanasur (Minister for Textiles, Ports and Inland Transport, Govt of Karnataka) and Rajesh Prasad IAS (Administrator, UT of Lakshadweep) and other delegates here on 26 August. The entire project has been undertaken at a cost of Rs 50 crore, will include facilities for cargo vessels, a wharf, godown with 4000+ sq.m area, among others and seeks to rejuvenate and help flourish the trade between Lakshadweep and Mangaluru.
The MOU was signed by the directors of Karwar and Lakshadweep ports. Baburao expressed his pleasure at the signing of the MOU and ensured to provide any help from the Government of Karnataka. He also said that the project should be time bound and noted that there is a lot of work to be done in the Karavali region.
Congratulating the port departments of Lakshadweep and Mangaluru, MLA J R Lobo said Mangaluru always had traditional port trade relations with Lakshadweep and it was flourishing earlier. But in the recent past, due to the lack of infrastructure facilities in Old Mangalore Port, the trade was affected and its volume decreased, with most of the trade being diverted to the Cochin port. He hoped that with the signing of the MOU, the trade between Mangaluru and Lakshadweep would get better, improving immensely with further improvement of infrastructure. “I am happy for this project,” said Lobo pointing out that the most important aspect of this project is the maintenance of the depth of water at atleast 6-7 metres through dredging. He requested the port authorities to see to it that this minimum requirement is met. “Dredging needs to be done continually to maintain this depth. All other arrangements are secondary; if this is not done, the project will be a failure.”
Backing Lobo’s views, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said that the development of the port would be useless without proper dredging to maintain the depth. The same problem is being faced by Hejamadi and Kulai jetty. The development of these jetties was to be done in a 40-60 centre-state partnership, but the cost of the project has increased. If the state government agrees to increase the amount of funds for the project, the centre will be ready to provide the rest of the amount, he said.
Rajesh Prasad noted that this was a historic moment for the people of Lakshadweep and Karnataka and for the historic partnership between Mangaluru and Lakshadweep. He said, “After years of requests and expectations, this moment has finally arrived. We will now implement the logical conclusion to this agreement within a fixed timeframe.” He said that it would take atleast 6 months to get clearance from the Ministry of Ecology and Forest along with other approvals required to execute the project. He also gave assurance that Lakshadweep would conduct maintenance dredging yearly at Old Mangalore Port as they have a similar arrangement with the Cochin port.
Requesting minister Baburao to provide temporary facilities like shed, toilets for passengers who commute between Mangaluru and Lakshadweep and to take up excessive interest in the port area of the region, MP from Lakshadweep Lok Sabha constituency, Mohammed Faizal P P of the Nationalist Congress Party expressed happiness over the long awaited project and recognised the MOU as an important mark in the history of the relation between Lakshadweep and Mangaluru. He hoped that this relationship would only get stronger with time.
Commenting on the MOU, MLC Ivan D’Souza said that the development of the Old Mangalore Port was a long pending task and he was happy that the initiative has been taken now. He also said that there is still more work required to be done. Port facilities and safety measures need to be improved since many have lost their lives at the port due to lack of appropriate safety measures. He also urged minister Baburao to look into the CRZ procedures as they were hindering development of ports in the zone.
Baburao replied that he had written a letter to the Minister for Road Transport Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari requesting exemption of CRZ rules to existing minor ports, such as Karwar port – which is acclaimed as one of the best natural all weather intermediate ports in the country, Belekeri, Tadri and Pavinkurvve ports, irrespective of the costs of development projects in the port limits as their development is being obstructed due to restrictions in the CRZ procedures and to extend financial assistance for comprehensive development of the ports in Karnataka. In his letter, he also stated that the Ministry of Ecology and Forest may be requested to issue early clearance for the state port projects and that the dredging of minor ports may be taken up by the Dredging Corporation of India with the central government’s financial assistance which will help to increase efficiency of the port, since dredging needs huge financial investment.
Later, Baburao along with the other delegates visited the wharf to inspect its condition and listen to the needs of the people of the locality. K S Jambale Superintendent Engineer, Port & IWT Circle, Karwar, welcomed the gathering. Members of the ports authorities of Lakshadweep and Karwar were also present.