Fishermen’s protest overshadows Adani’s Vizhinjam port project | Whuff News

Of late, the ₹7,500-crore Vizhinjam port project in Kerala has faced turbulent weather following massive protests by local residents including the fishing community. The situation forced the promoters of the Adani Port and Special Economic Zone project to stop all construction activities at the site since August 16.

Work on the deep water multi-purpose port began in December 2015.

The month-long agitation has forced the management to approach the Kerala High Court which directed the State government to provide the necessary police protection to carry out the construction work. The company is now looking at government efforts to restart work.

Looking for solatium

Putting the daily losses at ₹2 crore due to work stoppages, industry sources said that the unrest will delay commissioning of the project from the 2024 timeframe. Adani Ports has reportedly sought compensation from the Kerala government for the losses.

Fishermen under the banner of the Latin Catholic Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram started an agitation alleging that construction works have resulted in coastal erosion on the northern side of the port, affecting their livelihood. They demand that all work be stopped until new scientific studies are carried out on environmental and social aspects. The State Government has established a committee to examine whether there is coastal erosion during the construction of the project.

A company spokesman said they were awaiting government approval to resume work. Of the 2,960m length of the breakwater, approximately 1,400m has been completed including piling works for the construction of the wharf. The rest of the work is expected to start in October and the first 400 m pier is likely to be completed by May 2023.

Port development

Prakash Iyer, Chairman, Cochin Port Users Forum said Vizhinjam with a natural draft of 20m is being developed as a container transshipment port to compete with Colombo. The port’s proximity to international shipping channels at 12 nautical miles offers direct access to several trade routes.

Munshid Ali of Kerala Exporters Forum said that cargo from Malabar region can be shipped from Vizhinjam through intermediary services connecting small ports. The current annual cargo from Malabar is around 15,000 twenty-foot boxes for which the trade depends on Kochi, Chennai and Thoothukudi for transhipment from the port of Colombo. The authorities should take steps to develop a small port in Malabar to make it a satellite port of Vizhinjam for feeder services.

TP Salim Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Kerala Maritime Board, said there will be a paradigm shift in cargo movement once the Vizhinjam terminal becomes a reality. The government has plans to improve coastal connectivity as part of shifting 20 percent of cargo from road to sea. “We are in the process of developing five small ports to equip them for coastal cargo movement.”

The Board is in talks with Cochin Shipyard to build a new 120 TEU capacity vessel for coastal cargo transportation, taking into account the expenditure of ₹10 crore as coastal shipping incentive every year, he added.

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