THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The need for a modern port at Vizhinjam is today referred to as a 25-year-old dream dating back to the 1990s when the state government hired a Hyderabad-based group to build one. The dream, in reality, is a lot older.
One man who wanted to develop this small southern coastal village into a major port was Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer, who was Travancore Dewan up to 1947. His dream remained unfulfilled, though. ‘’Sir CP’s proposal was to build a big port at Vizhinjam and link it to the Vellayani Lake with a channel. It is well documented,’’ said journalist and historian Malayinkeezh Gopalakrishnan.
"Apparently, the proposal was shot down on the grounds that the Vellayani was a freshwater lake and linking it in any manner to the saline sea waters would spell its doom,’’ Gopalakrishnan said.
Ironically, some eight decades down the line, when the Adani Group is set to develop Vizhinjam as ‘’one of the world’s largest mega transshipment container terminals,’’ the Vellayani Lake too will play a critical role - but in an altogether different manner. It is from this lake that water would be sourced to the port site and surrounding locality.
With attention shifting to the Kochi and the Cochin Port Trust, Vizhinjam was relegated to backshelves once again. But it is said that there were even earlier attempts to construct a port here. ‘’Raja Kesavadas, the Dewan during the reign of Dharma Raja Karthika Tirunal Rama Varma, was quite interested in developing ports. But his focus was on developing a port at Alappuzha,’’ Gopalakrishnan said.
Vizhinjam’s fame as an ancient port dates back to the Ay dynasty (circa 850 AD to 1400 AD) when it used to be their capital, and now the region is set to regain lost glory with a modern seaport coming up there.