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Naval team coming to Vallarpadam

Our Bureau

The Naval authorities are now inclined towards allowing the successful bidder to set up post-Panamax cranes with 120 metres at Vallarpadam subject to certain conditions.

NEW DELHI, Dec. 18

A HIGH-LEVEL team from the Naval headquarters in Delhi will visit Vallarpadam island in the next few days to undertake a study of the security aspects relating to the container transhipment terminal planned by the Cochin Port Trust.

The decision to send a team to Vallarpadam was taken at a meeting held between the Shipping Secretary, Mr M.P. Pinto, Defence Secretary, and the Naval Chief here.

During the meeting, the Defence authorities are understood to have dropped their earlier rigid stand on the " height restrictions" and had expressed willingness to sort out the issue amicably, Shipping Ministry officials said.

The Naval authorities had objected to the erection of post-Panamax cranes having a height of 120 metres at the Vallarpadam island as it would obstruct the flight path of the near-by naval base.

As per stipulations, the Naval authorities were willing to let cranes with a height of only about 40 metres to be set up at the container transhipment terminal.

" This would have jeopardised the viability and future of the project, depressing investor confidence", the officials said.

The Naval authorities are now inclined towards allowing the successful bidder to set up post-Panamax cranes with 120 metres at Vallarpadam subject to certain conditions.

A final decision on this will be taken after the team returns from Kochi and submits its report to the Defence Ministry.

The Union Minister of Shipping, Mr Vedprakash P. Goyal, conveyed the decision to send a central Naval team to Vallarpadam to the Kerala chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, who called on him on Wednesday.

During the hour-long meeting, the Chief Minister also urged the Shipping Minister to take up the expansion of the national waterways in Kerala as well as the one on Cochin Shipyard.

Mr Antony is slated to meet the Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, on Thursday, with a plea to expedite the development of the container terminal, among other issues.

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