Vizhinjam port

  • IASbaba
  • August 25, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology, Geography, Governance
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In News: The week-long ongoing protests against the construction of the Adani Group’s Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram intensified, with fisherfolk laying siege to the port from the sea and land.

  • The fishing community has said the protests will continue until all their demands are met.
  • The Chief Minister of Kerala told that the government was ready for talks, and wanted to resolve the concerns faced by the fishing community — however, it could not agree to halting the project.

Fisherfolk’s demands

  • The biggest demand of the protesters is that the project should be stopped and a proper environmental impact study should be carried out.

The community has also put forward six other demands:

  • rehabilitation of families who lost their homes to sea erosion,
  • effective steps to mitigate coastal erosion,
  • financial assistance to fisherfolk on days weather warnings are issued,
  • compensation to families of those who lose their lives in fishing accidents,
  • subsidised kerosene, and
  • a mechanism to dredge the Muthalappozhi fishing harbour in Anchuthengu in Thiruvananthapuram district.

The government has conceded all demands except providing a kerosene subsidy, and halting the construction of the port.

Delays; contested studies

  • As per the initial agreement, the project was supposed to be operational by 2019. The Adani Group cited several reasons for the delay, from the 2017 Ockhi cyclone to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Fisherfolk were also provoked by the central government’s annual shoreline studies that concluded work on the port did not lead to increased coastal erosion, even though the impact was clearly visible.
  • In 2019, the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, said in its Annual Shoreline Monitoring report that erosion spots such as Valliyathura, Shangumugham, and Punthura had remained unchanged since the construction of the port began in 2015.
  • The 2021 edition of the study noted erosion at Pulluvila (500 m), Mullur (290 m), Kochuveli (250 m), Punthura (150 m), Cheriyathura (120 m), Shangumugham (100m), and Valliyathura (50m), but concluded that the port activity had less impact than high wave activities and cyclones in the Arabian Sea.

Question of viability

  • The Rs 7,525 crore port being built under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with Adani Ports Private Limited, in December 2015.
  • The port will have 30 berths, and will be able to handle giant “megamax” container ships.
  • It is said to be ultramodern port, located close to major international shipping routes, will boost India’s economy.
  • The port is expected to compete with Colombo, Singapore, and Dubai for a share of trans-shipment traffic.
  • The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, tabled in the Kerala assembly in 2017, had said the conditions of the concession agreement 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, the CAG report stated.
  • The CAG had said that the standard concession period for PPP projects was 30 years, but the Vizhinjam project concessionaire had been given an extra 10 years, which would allow it to reap an additional revenue of Rs 29,127 cr

According to locals, the project would put the government in a “debt trap”, and could meet a fate similar to that of the Vallarpadam Terminal in Kochi, which has failed to make a profit more than a decade after it was opened.

Source: Indian Express

Indian Express

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