THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Tuesday that all concerns regarding the Vizhinjam port project have been addressed in the project report, but additional concerns, if any, would be looked into.
Chandy, inaugurating a seminar on ‘Vizhinjam: The Port and Development of Kerala’ organised by a leading daily, said that the project report has earmarked Rs 220 crore for the rehabilitation and welfare of fishermen families and coastal communities who will be affected by the multi-crore project.
Chandy’s comments come in the wake of the Latin Catholic Church raising objections citing the adverse impact that the project would have on the livelihood of the fishing community. ‘’All possible studies have been done. The Environment Impact Assessment has studied and examined all aspects and suggested solutions,’’ he said. Chandy emphasised the need to complete the construction of the port on time, adding that such a result would boost the state’s confidence immensely.
"Already, it is late. If it were any other state, Vizhinjam would have been a reality 25 years ago,’’ he said.
Ports Minister K Babu, who presided over the seminar, denied that the state government tweaked tender conditions in favour of the Adani Group, with which the government is set to sign the concession agreement on Monday. The state’s interests have been fully protected, Babu said. The agreement has provisions for the government to audit the port accounts, and allegations to the contrary were wrong, he said.
"Now, what we need is a political and social atmosphere for making the port a reality,’’ he added. Babu also echoed the Chief Minister’s statement that the project report fully addresses the concerns.
Former ports minister V Surendran Pillai asked the government to ensure that the state’s interests are protected fully before signing the agreement with Adani. ‘’Concerns remaining with regards the project, if any, should be addressed.
The port should not end up as a burden for future generations. We should ensure that it does not end up as another Mullaperiyar’’ he said.