Setback to ambitious plan: Dubai company rejects site in Samba to set up ‘dry port’

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SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has suffered a major disappointment as the Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of Dubai in United Arab Emirates (UAE), has rejected the site offered to set up a dry port at Samba in Jammu region.
The state government, which will now have to look for some other land, was quite enthusiastic about the foreign-funded project, the first of its kind, which was expected to be a game changer in the state.
Top sources in the government told Kashmir Reader that the Dubai company, which in a joint venture with the J&K government is to set up dry ports in the state, rejected the site due to some technical reasons, and now the government is exploring an alternative location.
“They have given us some parameters for the site. We are exploring them. At present, we are looking for government land, but in case we don’t get it, then we have to acquire land for which the cost will be around Rs 20 crore,” the sources said. “This process takes time because we are doing a joint venture with an outside company that cannot purchase land here. So, we first have to acquire land, give it on lease, and only then work will start. This will take time and no time frame can be set for it.”
The Dubai Ports World has rejected 400 acres of land in Samba, a site identified by the J&K government. Sources said that earlier plans to set up a dry port in Srinagar have seen no action so far.
“The work in Srinagar is yet to start. It was discussed vaguely with the company, but the government decided to first start work on establishing it in Jammu, and then in Srinagar,” the sources said.
A Dry Port is an inland terminal which is connected to a seaport by rail or road. In Srinagar, land for such a port was identified in 2005, but no work has started because Kashmir Valley is yet to be connected by rail with the rest of India. Work on a rail link has been going on for decades but there is no certainty yet on when it will be complete.
Due to this missing rail link, the sources said, the Dubai company had clearly said that it will connect dry ports through train only and not by road. That was why a dry port was planned to be set up in Jammu, where rail connectivity does exist.
The rejection of the Samba site by the Dubai company will hurt plans for boosting Kashmir exports, which have been stagnant for many years at Rs 2,500 crore worth. Carpets, which form the major chunk of exports from the state, are at present transported through air only, which increases their cost and decreases quantity.