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Land problems delay Reliance's port project

The US$1.13B bulk port project of India's Reliance Industries faces delay of one year and cost overrun of $225M due to foot-dragging in land allocation by the Maharashtra state government.
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Phase I of Rewas port on the west coast, vital for Reliance's proposed large special economic zone (SEZ), will now be completed at the end of 2011 at the earliest.

A consortium of banks led by ICICI Bank was ready to lend $766M for the first phase, but a deal cannot be signed without land title in hand.

Operator Rewas Port Ltd, 65% owned by Reliance group companies, 24% by Amma Lines and 11% by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), will build the port about 10 km south of Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India's largest container port.

The project will be developed in three phases. Phase I will have 10 berths with handling capacity of 55 mt.

An MMB official said the government had allocated the land for the project but had not yet signed the transfer deed with the port company.

Reliance is ready to float an international tender for what is believed to be India's largest dredging project, but is unable to proceed because it does not have the title to 1,000 hectares of land required for the project.

According to the original schedule, work to dredge over 120 million cubic meters from the Amba River at an estimated cost of $406M was scheduled to begin in January this year.

Phase I berths will have draft of 14.5m, which will be gradually increased to 20m.

When all phases are completed, Rewas will have 70 berths capable of handling 457 mt, about 65% of the total throughput of India's 193 ports in the year ended March 2008.

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