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The government of India has given the final nod for a high-stakes port project on the west coast: a greenfield harbour at Vadhavan, some 120 miles north of Mumbai.

The investment plan – estimated at some $10bn, in stages – has a two-pronged goal: to ease capacity pressure at Nhava Sheva Port (JNPA); and integrate supply chains with alternative cross-border multimodal networks taking shape to sidestep disruptions from geopolitical setbacks.

“The project will be constructed by Vadhavan Port Project, an SPV [special purpose vehicle] formed by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), with shareholdings of 74% and 26%, respectively,” said an official statement.

“Vadhavan Port, on completion, will be one of the top 10 ports in the world,” it claimed.

The planned port will feature nine container terminals, with a 1,000-metre quay each, four multipurpose berths, four dedicated berths for liquid cargo and one ro-ro facility, backed by expansive cargo storage capacity. Full build-out capacity is pegged at some 23m teu for containers and nearly 300 MT overall throughput.

The chief attractions for investors include 20-metre natural water depth, meaning it will be able to handle container vessels of up to 20,000 teu, and a vast hinterland, stretching into secondary markets of the northern interior.

Indeed, several container industry heavyweights have already shown interest, and inked provisional agreements to partner in the development, involving a public-private-partnership (PPP) model. They include DP World, APM Terminals, PSA and CMA CGM.

Jonathan Goldner, APMT regional MD for Asia Middle East, said recently that the location of Vadhavan created “an attractive opportunity to support the growth of the local manufacturers, exporters, importers, and the regional economy in general”.

He added: “In recent years, APMT has made significant investments at facilities in India and we are excited to partner with JNPA in exploring opportunities to develop the project at Vadhavan.”

The Vadhavan project had been on the drawing board for several years, receiving in-principle approval in 2020. However, concerns over huge capital investment estimates, environmental clearance issues and protests by the local populace delayed its progress.


Picture: AECOM report

Nhava Sheva/JNPA has no further room for expansion, given PSA’s Phase 2 development for BMCT, targeted for completion early next year. Thus, Vadhavan is being positioned as a tactical bet to prevent more cargo spillovers to Adani Group’s Mundra Port that has made significant market share gains in recent years.

At the same time, Adani is set to build large-scale additional capacity at Mundra to solidify its market leadership. In fiscal year 2023-24it accounted for some 44% India’s containerised trade, according to available data.

New Delhi also believes the Vadhavan project can support its pitch for alternative intercontinental transport programmes, such as the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC), in the pipeline to circumvent Suez Canal transits, and the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) for Central Asia trades, already under way, to keep cargo flowing.

You can contact the writer at [email protected].

Check out this clip of Andrew Bowen, COO DP World UK, on the company’s new deepwater berth at London Gateway

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