Centre has proposed setting up of a Rs 200 crore joint venture company with Tamil Nadu Government for starting water transport from Kanyakumari to the state capital, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday. “We have given a proposal by which we can make a joint venture between Tamil Nadu government and our Ministry,” the Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways said.
Addressing reporters after inaugurating a slew of initiatives at the Kamarajar Port Limited (KPL) at Ennore near Chennai , Gadkari said “our stake holder port will invest more than Rs 200 crore as equity,” in this JV. “We will formulate a joint venture company and start water transport from Kanyakumari to Chennai and also from Thiruvananthapuram (in Kerala) to Kanyakumari to Chennai. We can even go upto Mumbai and Goa also,” Gadkari said. He, however, did not specify which port would be investing the Rs 200 crore.
Gadkari said the Centre’s policy was to give ‘highest priority’ for inland water transport, especially involving rivers. To a question on the Sethusamudram shipping channel project, he reiterated the NDA government’s policy that Ramasethu or Adam’s bridge will not be dredged as was originally planned. “At any cost, we will not destroy Ramasethu. It is very clear,” he said, adding, the stand has been made clear in the Parliament also.
However, the Centre was “committed” to implementing the project with “4-5 options” under its proposal. But, since the issue was sub-judice in the Supreme Court, its consent on besides cabinet approval was required, he added. “We are very much committed for it (project) and regarding Ramasethu, we will never destroy that structure,” he said. The project seeks to create a navigational channel in the Palk Strait that would make shorter the journey time of ships from the western coast to eastern coast, avoiding the present need to circumvent Sri Lanka.
On the Centre’s Scrapping Policy, aimed at scrapping 15 year-old commercial vehicles, he said it had been submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). “After the clearance of the PMO, I feel that we will definitely be in a position to execute it,” he said.
Responding to a question, he said India was in talks with Sri Lanka for developing the Colombo Port. Sri Lanka was “keenly interested” in the project and “we are working on this but nothing is finalised,” he said.
On the proposed Colachel port in Tamil Nadu, Gadkari said it was a cabinet decision to develop the facility there and asserted that the “project is intact.” The interests of fishermen, besides the environment, will be protected, he added.
Earlier, Gadkari launched a series of facilities at KPL such as a container terminal, multi-cargo terminal and rail connectivity to these. Speaking at the inauguration, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister D Jayakumar, who also holds the Fisheries portfolio, told Gadkari that the state government has sought Rs 203 crore from insurance companies and shipping firms for the oil spill caused following the collision of two ships here in January. He urged the Central Minister to direct the firms concerned in this regard and Gadkari assured to expedite the process within 10 days.