India's largest private port operator Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ) Ltd has emerged as the highest bidder for the West Bengal government's greenfield deep-sea port project at Tajpur in a neck-to-neck fight with JSW Group, a source said on Friday.
APSEZ and Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group were the only two entities that took part in the financial bid round, though there were more port and logistics majors who had expressed initial interest in the estimated Rs 7,000-crore project in Purba Medinipur district.
"APSEZ is the highest bidder, offering a share of 0.25 per cent of gross revenue. It was marginally higher than the second bidder who offered 0.23 per cent," a senior government official said, without wanting to be named.
The revenue share will increase to 4 per cent, but that will be at a much later date of the concession period, which is 99 years, he said.
The price bid for the tender, floated by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), was opened on Wednesday in the presence of the bidders -- APSEZ and JSW Infrastructure Ltd, the official said.
A note has been prepared after APSEZ emerged as the highest bidder, and it will be placed before the state cabinet for final approval, he said.
As per an analyst, 0.25 per cent revenue share is very low and will lead to an adverse impact on the existing Kolkata Port.
West Bengal government expects that the first phase of the project will be completed in three-four years, and it will be operational, the official said.
Road access to the site is the biggest challenge, while railway connectivity is also crucial, he said.
For a 15-16 metre draft, an 18-km channel has to be built into the sea. For Panamax size vessels, 12 meters draft is necessary.
APSEZ will get 125 acres of seafront land for the development of the port, and another 1,000 acres, situated 4 km away, for port-linked industrial development.
Adani Group did not bid for the privatisation of Kolkata Port's Kiddherpore dock, but is the highest bidder for modernisation of Berth 2 of Haldia dock.
In less than two decades, APSEZ has built, acquired and developed a portfolio of ports infrastructure and services across India. Its 13 ports and terminals represent 24 per cent of the country's port capacity.
Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in December last year to discuss investment possibilities in the state. In February, his son Karan also visited the state and met Banerjee.
Group company Adani Wilmar recently acquired a rice mill in Burdwan. The group also has acquired gas distribution licences in certain parts of West Bengal in partnership with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).