Infra Projects Cleared

On 19 June 2024, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, approved four major infrastructure projects.

Development of an Greenfield Deep-Draft Major Port at Vadhavan in Maharashtra

The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of a major port at Vadhavan near Dahanu, Maharashtra. This project will be carried out by Vadhavan Port Project Limited (VPPL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), with a shareholding ratio of 74 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Vadhavan Port will be an all-weather, greenfield deep-draft major port located in Palghar District, Maharashtra.

The total project cost, which includes land acquisition, is Rs 76,220 crore. This will cover the development of core infrastructure, terminals, and other commercial infrastructure through public-private partnerships (PPP). Additionally, the Cabinet approved establishing road connectivity between the port and national highways by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and rail linkage to the existing rail network and the upcoming Dedicated Rail Freight Corridor by the Ministry of Railways.

The port will feature nine container terminals, each 1,000 meters long, four multipurpose berths, including a coastal berth, four liquid cargo berths, a Ro-Ro berth, and a Coast Guard berth. The project includes the reclamation of 1,448 hectares of sea area and the construction of 10.14 km of offshore breakwater and container/cargo storage areas. The port will have a cumulative capacity of 298 million metric tons (MMT) per annum, including around 23.2 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) of container handling capacity.

The capacities created will also support EXIM trade through the India Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The state-of-the-art maritime terminal facilities will enhance public-private partnerships and utilize modern technologies to create terminals capable of handling large vessels on international shipping routes between the Far East, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Upon completion, Vadhavan Port is expected to rank among the world’s top ten ports.

The project aligns with the PM Gati Shakti program and is expected to boost economic activity, creating direct and indirect employment opportunities for approximately 1.2 million individuals, thereby contributing to the local economy.

Development of Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi

The Union Cabinet also approved the proposal by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi. This development includes the construction of a new terminal building, apron extension, runway extension, parallel taxi track, and allied works.

The estimated cost is Rs 2,869.65 crore, aimed at increasing the airport’s passenger handling capacity from 3.9 million passengers per annum (MPPA) to 9.9 MPPA. The new terminal building, covering 75,000 square meters, is designed to handle 6 MPPA and 5,000 Peak Hour Passengers (PHP), reflecting the city’s rich cultural heritage.

The project also includes extending the runway to 4,075 meters by 45 meters and constructing a new apron to park 20 aircraft. Varanasi airport will be developed as a green airport, focusing on environmental sustainability through energy optimization, waste recycling, carbon footprint reduction, solar energy utilization, and natural daylighting, among other sustainable measures.

Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme for Offshore Wind Energy Projects

On the same day, the Union Cabinet approved the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme for offshore wind energy projects, with a total outlay of Rs 7,453 crore. This includes Rs 6,853 crore for installing and commissioning 1 GW of offshore wind energy projects (500 MW each off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu) and a grant of Rs 600 crore for upgrading two ports to meet logistics requirements.

The VGF scheme aims to implement the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy notified in 2015, leveraging India’s vast offshore wind energy potential. Government support will reduce power costs from offshore wind projects, making them viable for purchase by DISCOMs. The projects will be developed by private developers selected through a transparent bidding process, while the power excavation infrastructure, including offshore substations, will be constructed by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will coordinate with various ministries and departments to ensure successful implementation.

The construction and operation of offshore wind energy projects require specific port infrastructure capable of handling heavy and large equipment. Under this scheme, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways will support two ports to meet offshore wind development requirements.

Offshore wind energy offers several advantages over onshore wind and solar projects, including higher adequacy and reliability, lower storage requirements, and higher employment potential. Developing the offshore wind sector will attract investments, develop indigenous manufacturing capabilities, create employment opportunities, and advance technology. This initiative will also contribute to India’s energy transition targets.

The successful commissioning of 1 GW offshore wind projects will produce approximately 3.72 billion units of renewable electricity annually, reducing CO2 emissions by 2.98 million tons annually over 25 years. This scheme will kickstart offshore wind energy development in India, creating a supportive ecosystem for ocean-based economic activities and supporting the development of 37 GW of offshore wind energy with an investment of about Rs 4,50,000 crore.

National Forensic Infrastructure Enhancement Scheme (NFIES)

The Union Cabinet approved the Ministry of Home Affairs’ proposal for the National Forensic Infrastructure Enhancement Scheme (NFIES) with a total financial outlay of Rs 2,254.43 crore for the period 2024-25 to 2028-29, provisioned from the Ministry’s budget.

The scheme includes the following components:

  • Establishment of new campuses for the National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) across the country.
  • Establishment of new Central Forensic Science Laboratories (CFSLs).
  • Enhancement of the existing infrastructure of the NFSU Delhi campus.

The Government of India is committed to creating an effective and efficient criminal justice system based on scientific and timely forensic examination of evidence. This scheme emphasizes the importance of high-quality, trained forensic professionals in examining evidence scientifically for an efficient criminal justice process, leveraging technological advancements and evolving crime methods.

The new criminal laws mandate forensic investigation for offenses involving punishment of seven years or more, significantly increasing the workload of forensic science laboratories. There is also a notable shortage of trained forensic manpower in the country.

To address this demand, significant investment and enhancement in national forensic infrastructure are essential. Establishing additional NFSU campuses and new CFSLs will address the shortage of trained forensic professionals, reduce the case load and pendency of forensic laboratories, and align with the Government’s goal of achieving a high conviction rate of over 90 percent.

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