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Rs 7,500-crore Vizhinjam seaport: Wary of losing livelihood, dwelling area, fishermen begin sit-in at Adani project site

Fishermen, under the leadership of Catholic archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, have been opposing the project, alleging that it has triggered massive sea erosion, leading to loss of livelihood and dwelling area

Starting from Tuesday, the fishermen under the archdiocese have decided to go for a round-the-clock sit-in at the main gate of the Adani Ports and SEZ Pvt Ltd till August 31. (PTI Photo)

Fishermen opposing Adani Group’s Rs 7,500-crore under-construction Vizhinjam international seaport firmed up their stand on Tuesday as hundreds of them laid a siege to the main entrance of the project site.

Fishermen, under the leadership of Catholic archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, have been opposing the project, alleging that it has triggered massive sea erosion, leading to loss of livelihood and dwelling area. The Church has stepped in to lead the agitation as fishermen belong to the Latin Catholic community.

Starting from Tuesday, the fishermen under the archdiocese have decided to go for a round-the-clock sit-in at the main gate of the Adani Ports and SEZ Pvt Ltd till August 31.

Archdiocese Vicar-General Fr Eugine H Pereira said the project will spell doom for the fishermen community in the coastal belt of Southern Kerala. “Over the years, fishermen had been deprived of the coast in the guise of development. Fishermen are called Kerala’s own army. Now, these people are fighting for their survival. Both ruling and opposition fronts have shady dealings with the Adani group. The government should hear our voice and address this matter of livelihood and survival,’’ he said.

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The priest said 300 fishermen families lodged in shelters don’t have basic facilities. “Since the construction of the port began in 2015, about 50 acres of seashore have been reclaimed. The rehabilitation has remained on paper. The port construction should be suspended and a scientific study should be held to know the fallout of the project,” he said.

Kerala Ports Minister Ahamed Devarkovil said the government is ready for talks with the protesters. “External elements are behind the agitation, not the people of Vizhinjam. The sea erosion is not only due to the construction of the port; changing climatic conditions are also contributing to the crisis. However, we are ready for talks with the agitators,” he said.

In 2015, the then Congress government had inked the Vizhinjam project deal with the Adani Group. The company had promised to complete the project within 1,000 days. The deadline was later extended to September 2023. Last month, the government told the Assembly that acute shortage of boulders for the construction of breakwater had hit the project. The developer could source only 40.23-lakh tonnes of granite so far, which is 46 per cent of the total requirement, the government had said.

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A CAG report tabled in the Assembly in 2017 said the concession agreement conditions were not favourable to the state government. “Out of a total project cost of Rs 7,525 crore, the Adani Group needs to invest only Rs 2,454 crore. The rest of the cost would be borne by the state and the central governments,” it had pointed out.

The CAG said while the standard concession period for public-private partnership projects is 30 years, in the Vizhinjam project, the concessionaire was given another 10 years, which will help Adani Group in reaping an additional revenue of Rs 29,127 crore.

Attempts to reach Adani Group for a comment went futile.

First published on: 16-08-2022 at 10:10:41 pm
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