Bhubaneswar: As the legal hurdles cleared and the defense objections lifted, Odisha is all set to get its third minor port at Suarnarekha river mouth in Balasore district. However, the port project at Astaranga in Puri district is mired in legal battles.

Odisha has notified 14 sites along its 480 km long coastline for development of minor ports. Out of these sites, two minor ports at Dhamra in Bhadrak and Gopalpur in Ganjam district have becoming operational.

The State government had awarded two more sites at Subarnarekha and Astaranga to private port developer on BOOST (build, own, operate, share and transfer) basis in 2008 and 2010. While Subarnarekha was awarded to Creative Infrastructure of Chennai, Astaranga port project was awarded to Navayuga Eningeering of Hyderabad.

However due to a PIL in the Odisha high court challenging the Odisha Port Policy 2004, the private port developers could not go ahead with the project work.

“After the litigation in the high court was over in 2016, the State government obtained the defense clearance from the Centre for the Subarnarekha port in 2017”, said the State commerce and transport minister Padmanava Behera while replying to questions by BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi and BJD MLA Sourmya Ranjan Patnaik in the House on Thursday.’

Meanwhile, Tata Steel has acquired a controlling stake in the Subarnarekha Port from the Creative Infrastructure and has expedited the project.

The minister said that the land acquisition for expansion of Basta-Baliapala-Chaudamukh road connecting the Subarnarekha port and railway line from Amarda Road to the port is going on.

Behera said while the Subarnarekha port was is going on, the Astarnaga project has slowed down due to litigation in the case. Villagers of 7 villages facing eviction for the port project has gone to the court in 2014 challenging the land acquisition process. This has created hurdles in land acquisition for the port project, he added.

The minister said, the State government is taking steps to develop a riverine port on the left bank of River Mahanadi at Akhadasali village of Mahakalpada block of Kendrapada district. He said the process of selecting a developer for the port is going on.

Behera said that a captive jetty is coming up at Jatadhari mouth of River Mahanadi in Jagatsinghpur district.

Country’s biggest steel maker JSW, which has taken over the POSCO’s site in Odisha to develop a 12 million tonne mega green field steel plant, is developing the jetty at Jatadhari.

The State government has identified sites at Bichitrapur, Bahabalpur, Inchudi and Chandipur in Balasore district, Chudamani in Bhadrak, Baliharichandi in Puri, Palur and Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district for development of minor ports.

The minister said the Chudamani port project was awarded to Essel Mining & Industries Ltd. of Aditya Birla Group. However, the contract was cancelled as the promoter lost interest in it.

According to Behera, Dhamra Port Development Company, an Adani Group company, has invested Rs 6,927 crore by now in the project and employed 3,243 locals in the port. Similarly, the Gopalpur Port Development Company, where in the Shapoorji & Pallonji has taken over 51% stakes from the original promoter Odisha Stevedores’ Ltd.(OSL), has chipped in Rs 13.50 crore and employed 5,156 persons in the port.