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Day 11 – Q.3 What are your thoughts on the ongoing protests against the Vizhinjam port? In order to reconcile national interests with those of the locals, what recommendations would you make?

  • IASbaba
  • December 8, 2022
  • 0
GS 2, Indian Polity, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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What are your thoughts on the ongoing protests against the Vizhinjam port? In order to reconcile national interests with those of the locals, what recommendations would you make? 

विरिंजम बंदरगाह के खिलाफ चल रहे विरोध पर आपके क्या विचार हैं? स्थानीय लोगों के राष्ट्रीय हितों के साथ सामंजस्य स्थापित करने के लिए आप क्या सुझाव देंगे?


Approach –

In this question candidates need to write about why protests are happening on vizhinjam port ,what are demands of locals and give recommendations to reconcile national interests with those of locals .

Introduction-

Fisher-folk have been protesting against the project for the past four months, alleging that its construction is causing massive sea erosion, taking away their livelihood and dwellings.

Body –

The Vizhinjam Port project was first conceived in 1991, to be developed in a public-private partnership. Adani was the sole bidder for the project and the contract was signed in 2015 .

  • Work started in December 2015 and the first phase of the port was expected to be completed by December 2019, but has been delayed owing to protests, shortage of stones for the breakwater and the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • For four months, fishermen in the region have been protesting against its construction. They state that the construction of the port will result in widespread sea erosion, and destroy their houses and livelihoods.
  • The agitators have been alleging the unscientific construction of groyne, the artificial sea walls as part of the upcoming port, was one of the reasons for the increasing coastal erosion.
  • Their seven-point demands are:
  • Conduct an impact study and shelve the project till the report is out.
  • Rehabilitation of families who lost their homes to sea rage.
  • Compensation for loved ones in fishing accidents.
  • Financial aid to fisherfolk on days weather warnings are issued.
  • Subsidise kerosene.
  • A mechanism to dredge the Muthalappozhi fishing harbour in Anchuthengu.
  • Effective steps to mitigate coastal erosion.
  • Earlier this year, the government passed two orders to build 750-square-feet flats to rehabilitate those living in the Valiyathura godowns and give them Rs 5,500 as rent, till their new homes are ready, said the ports minister’s office.

Recommendation to reconcile national interests with those of locals –

  • While several government reports have claimed that there will be no environmental impact of the port, owing to the protests the Kerala government in October also constituted a four-member expert committee to study the impact of the project on coastal erosion.
  • The government would also consider the outcome from the high court before deciding further action. The agitators had given an assurance at the high court that they would not obstruct the construction.
  • The government also instituted a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to monitor the environmental and social impact of the port in real-time.
  • The government also remained ambivalent about whether it would accommodate the VAC’s nominee on the panel constituted to conduct a social, environmental, and livelihood impact study.
  • The port falls just 10 nautical miles from the international shipping line, very close to the East-West shipping axis and is well-positioned to capture more business from other maritime hubs like Sri Lanka, Dubai and Singapore. It also promises huge economic growth for the state.
  • The proposed port has a natural depth of 18 metres, which can bring in large vessels and in effect, bigger consignments.The port is to have 30 berths, and will be able to handle giant “megamax” container ships.
  • The Adani Group has said the ultramodern port, located close to major international shipping routes, will boost India’s economy and halting it will have big impact on keralas reputation .
  • Its location is also of strategic importance, the project’s supporters have claimed. The port is expected to compete with Colombo, Singapore, and Dubai for a share of trans-shipment traffic.
  • According to the Vizhinjam International Seaport website, the port’s advantages are “availability of a 20m contour within one nautical mile from the coast; minimal littoral drift along the coast, hardly any maintenance dredging required; links to national/regional road, rail network; and proximity to international shipping routes.”
  • 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 crore.

Conclusion

Vizhinjam port will not only work as port to handle transshipment traffic but it will give India upper hand strategically and will contribute enormously to India’s economy.

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