PM’s address on the occasion of the Commissioning of International Container Trans-shipment Terminal at Vallarpadam
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, dedicated the International Container Trans-shipment Terminal to the Nation at Vallapadam in Kochi today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address:
“It is my real proud privilege to be present today at Vallarpadam to dedicate to the nation and the state of Kerala the first phase of this prestigious International Container Trans-shipment Terminal. It is a symbol of the Government of India’s commitment to the development of the State of Kerala and its people. It is a symbol of how public–private partnership can contribute to public good. And it will be an enduring symbol of the close ties we wish to build with our extended neighbours in West Asia, particularly the United Arab Emirates. I take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to our honoured guests from UAE.
I recall with a sense of great satisfaction that I laid the foundation stone of this prestigious project in February 2005. I am therefore truly delighted to see how well this state of the art terminal has come up.
It is noteworthy that the construction of this Terminal is the centrepiece of a comprehensive plan to develop Kochi as an economic and logistical hub of our region. The project area has been declared as a Special Economic Zone. A link road has been built to connect Vallarpadam with NH 47 and NH 17. The Railway Vikas Nigam Limited has completed the 8.5 km rail link that connects this Terminal to the railway network. The navigation channels are being deepened and this is a challenging task involving as it does the removal of nearly 26 million cubic meters of soil.
I believe that we need to vastly increase the use of fuel efficient, environment friendly and safe modes of transport such as inland waterways. This mode of transportation is very suitable for bulk, containerised and hazardous cargo as is the case world-wide.
The West Coast Canal, which has been declared as National Waterway 3, offers excellent hinterland connectivity for Kochi and Vallarpadam port along the length of Kerala till Kollam. I am very happy to learn that Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has developed ‘ro-ro facility’ or roll on-roll off facility at Bolghatty and Willingdon islands in collaboration with Cochin Port Trust which further improves connectivity of Vallarpadam port.
The absence of a global hub port and the lack of transhipment facilities had put our trade at a disadvantage. Today about 60% of India’s export and import containers are trans-shipped through ports like Singapore and Colombo. This trans-shipment through ports outside our country involves an additional expenditure of US$ 300 per container and an extra 7-10 days of transit time.
With the building of this Terminal our exporters can now access mainline container vessels calling at one of the most well located ports of India. The International Trans-shipment Terminal in Vallarpadam is thus a long awaited milestone in the development of our country’s logistics infrastructure.
This flagship projects symbolises the keen interest of the United Arab Emirates in investing in India and in promoting stronger business and people-to-people relationship between our two countries. Kerala with its huge diaspora of skilled and enterprising workers, engineers, doctors and other professionals is ideally suited to become the gateway for these investments.
The State of Kerala is well known not only for its visual beauty but also for the talent and industry of its magnificent people. The State already leads our country in many important social indicators of development. There is no reason why the rich human potential, geographical location and resources cannot be exploited to build Kerala into a front ranking industrial State of our great country. Kerala should become the model for other States to emulate and follow.
Kochi is well on its way to becoming an important and attractive investment destination not only in Kerala but for our region as a whole. I visualise in the future, the emergence of several port based services industries in its proximity. I also visualise the emergence of processing centers that will take advantage of the reliable and economical logistics to be provided by this Terminal.
I am very pleased that a modern LNG Import and regassification facility is also being constructed in the Cochin Port Trust area which is expected to be operational by March 2012.
In conclusion, I wish to convey my heartiest congratulations to the Cochin Port Trust team, the DP World and all the others who have made this project such a great success despite several challenges. I hope that this project symbolizes the future rejuvenation of the ports and shipping sectors in our country that my friend, Shri G.K. Vasan, the Minister of Shipping, is working hard to bring about.
It is with immense pride that I declare the International Container Trans-shipment as commissioned and dedicate it to our nation and to the people of Kerala.
With these words, I am very thankful to this magnificent audience for giving me a patient hearing.”