The Ministry of Shipping is revising the policy guidelines for awarding projects on the public-private partnership (PPP) basis for expanding capacities at major ports across the country.
According to the new regulations, the successful bidder of a project at a particular port would be barred from bidding for the subsequent project at the same port.
“We are revising the guidelines to prevent domination of a single private operator at a port. No changes are being made in the model concession agreement (MCA). We will issue the revised guidelines as policy directives to the major port trusts in the country,” said a senior official in the ministry.
Meanwhile, two projects worth over Rs 7,000 crore for the development of container terminals in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have been stalled due to litigation problems arising from lack of clarity on policy regarding this issue.
APM-Maersk, which was recently awarded a Rs 600-crore contract for the development of a standalone container handling facility at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port complex, has a filed a case against the JN Port Trust for being prevented from bidding for setting up the fourth container terminal at the port. This is primarily because there was no specific clause for not allowing a company which had already won a contract to bid for a subsequent one.
The terminal, estimated to be developed at a cost of Rs 6,700 crore, will add a capacity of 57.6 million tonnes (mt) per annum at the port.
“We are seeking legal advice on the issue. APM-Maersk has filed a petition on the ground that a third project for capacity enhancement has been awarded in between the two tenders. As the project for construction of the fourth container is not the immediately subsequent one, they have made representations against being disqualified,” a ministry official informed.
The other project which entails the conversion of berth 8 as container terminal at Tuticorin port, too, has been delayed with PSA Sical filing a case against the Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT).
The agreement signed between TPT and PSA Sical, when the latter had been awarded the contract for building and operating berth 7 at the port, mentioned that the operator would be eligible for participating in future tenders floated at the port.
Rakesh Srivastav, joint secretary of ports, said: “We want to prevent monopoly while taking up capacity expansion projects. So, we have dropped the tender for development of container terminal at Tuticorin. We are reassessing the terms of the contract. It will take some time before the project is taken up.”