Vizhinjam International Seaport in Kerala opens, a big push for India's maritime economy (Image courtesy: IANS)
As Vizhinjam International Seaport in Kerala—India’s first mega transshipment container terminal– kicks opens with the unloading of the heavy load cargo carrier, Zhen Hua 15, investments in the country’s crucial ports sector could further rise. Not just that, with the operationalization of the state-of-the-art port, India’s voice in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which has emerged as one of the busiest trade routes of the world, will get amplified.
Located close to the key shipping routes which include those running through the Suez Canal and Malacca Strait, the port is expected to draw some of the world’s biggest vessels, at a time when the world’s focus on the IOR is rising.
The docking of large containers and cargo vessels on the Indian port would also boost investments into India, as it calls for “Make in India for the world.” Until now large ships could not dock in India.
Gulf based news organization the National noted that the opening of the Vizhinjam port will “put India on the map for the world’s biggest container ships.”
A public private partnership project, the port, owned by the Kerala government will be operated and maintained by Gautam Adani promoted Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ).
APSEZ’s chief executive Karan Adani said the company is looking to further invest Rs 20,000 crore in the Vizhinjam Transhipment Terminal by 2030. The investments will help in expansion of cargo capacity.
“Global scanner is on Adani, the operationalization of the port would be a booster for him and his company as in this case as the partnership is between the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala and the Adani group,” an industry watcher told India Narrative.
Hong Kong based South China Morning Post described the new terminal as “another feather in the cap of Gautam Adani’s conglomerate, which faced a scathing short-seller attack in January alleging corporate malfeasance – charges the Adani Group has denied.” “With a dominance that already spans ports, mines, airports and power utilities, Vizhinjam will further cement the billionaire’s status as India’s infrastructure king,” the newspaper said.
The opening of the port will push India’s efforts in catching up with China. Until recently, India’s poor port infrastructure development had impacted its overall economic development. According to a government press statement, the container throughput of Indian ports stood at 17 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) for the period 2020 whereas that for China stood at 245 million TEUs for the same period. The combined container throughput across top 20 major global ports stood at 357 million TEUs during the period 2020.
The Indian Ocean, connecting Asia, Africa and Australia, is now the focus of the world. Amid the changing geopolitical dynamics, it will be critical for India to strengthen its presence in the IOR.
Meanwhile, India is set to organize the third Global Maritime summit from tomorrow. The three day event, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is expected to provide a fillip and showcase India’s efforts in strengthening its maritime economy and activities.