Wadhwan Port

From Global Energy Monitor

Wadhwan Port - also known as Vadhavan Port - is a proposed new port 140km north of Mumbai on the coast of Maharashtra state, India. The port is to be built on 5000 acres of land reclaimed from the sea near the town of Dahanu, Palghar district. Envisioned as India's first foreshore port, the project is to be jointly administered by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), which has a 74% equity stake, and the Maharashtra Maritime Board, which holds the remaining 26%.[1]

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Background

A coal terminal at Dahanu Port was first proposed in the 1990s, but faced strong opposition from local fisherman. In June 2015 it was reported that proponents were helping move the project forward by 1.) making the state government an equity partner in the project along with the central government, and 2.) building the port on reclaimed land. The port would have the capacity to handle 60-100 million tonnes of cargo per annum, mainly coal, and would cost roughly R6,000 crore. It is planned that coal handling would be shifted out of the Haji Bunder Port in Mumbai. The state and central government said they plan to have the port finished within three years, although they have yet to secure permits.[2]

The proposed port is to be built on reclaimed land near Wadhavan, approximately 10km southwest of Dahanu. This location has the advantage of a natural 20-meter draft, allowing larger bulk carriers to come closer to the port than they can at existing ports along the Maharashstra coast such as Mumbai and Nhava Sheva Port. In November 2016, Maharashtra's government requested that India's ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) exclude the proposed port from the Dahanu eco-sensitive zone due to its status as a foreshore facility. Once excluded from the eco-sensitive zone, next steps include JNPT's applying to the MoEFCC for environmental clearance, issuance of terms of reference by the MoEFCC, and preparation of an environmentsl impact assessment. As of April 2017, the new port was projected to be a five-phase, Rs30,000 crore project, with the first phase, capable of handling 25 million tonnes per annum, to be commissioned by 2025.[1]

Interest in the new Wadhwan Port is largely driven by desire to clean up Mumbai Port Trust's Port of Mumbai and JNPT's Nhava Sheva Port by moving "dirty" cargo such as thermal coal and coke offshore. As coal handling is discontinued at these existing ports, the construction of a new large-capacity coal port is seen as critical in keeping India's coal-fired thermal power plants operational.[3][4]

Local residents continue to express their strong opposition to the Wadhwan Port project. Citing concerns about environmental damage, fishermen from 13 local communities gathered in December 2016 to block the efforts of a team of surveyors who were studying potential locations for the new port. In addition to Wadhwan Port, JNPT is also considering development of two additional coal port projects along the Maharashtra coast, the Rewas Port just south of Mumbai and another port further south in Vijaydurg.[5]

In 2017, the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) blocked work on the Wadhwan port due to expected pollution and environmental destruction the port would bring.[6] Since that ruling, the government of India has sought ways to circumvent the DTEPA's authority. In October 2020, India's Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change dissolved the DTEPA and replaced it with an interim board, in what many observers interpreted as a move toward fully stripping Dahanu of its environmentally protected status.[7] Dahanu townsfolk believe that the government is trying to remove environmental protections so that infrastructure expansion plans, including the Wadhwan Port and the nearby Dahanu Power Station.

On December 3, 2020, 1,500 villagers joined a protest to block a JNPT survey of the planned are of the port. Protesters formed a 1.5 km human chain along the beach.[8] Two weeks later on December 15, a major strike took place along India's west coast in opposition to the Wadhwan port. As part of their protest, the fisher community of Mumbai, Thane and Palghar districts went on a one-day strike. The strike was supported by the fisherwomen who mainly control the selling business. The auto rikshaw and tempo organisation of Palghar also participated in the strike, and six villages of the Dahanu tehsil in Vadhavan area also remained completely closed throughout the day.[9]

In June 2021, India's National Green Tribunal ordered a work stoppage at the port site until the Central Board Pollution Control Board formed a special panel and submitted a report on the environmental impact of the port. Reporting at this time estimated total cost for the port at Rs 65,000 crore, or approximately US$8.8 billion, more than double the estimate in 2017.[10]

Project Details

  • Operator: Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) & Maharashtra Maritime Board
  • Location: Wadhwan, Dahanu, Palghar, Maharashtra, India
  • Annual Capacity (Tonnes): 25-100 million
  • Status: Proposed
  • Projected In Service: 2025
  • Type: Imports
  • Coal Source:
  • Cost: Rs65,000 crore (approx US$8.8 billion)
  • Financing:

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