How govt’s iron hand helped IOC’s Puthuvype LPG project

LPG import terminal project at Puthuvype in Kochi, faced agitations similar to those at Vizhinjam that scuttled its work repeatedly, is progressing without a whimper for nearly two and half years.

Published: 30th November 2022 06:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2022 08:48 AM   |  A+A-

Police personnel guard the IOC LPG terminal site at Puthuvype | A Sanesh

Express News Service

KOCHI: While Adani Group’s Vizhinjam port project is mired in protests, Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) LPG import terminal project at Puthuvype in Kochi, which faced similar agitation that scuttled its work repeatedly, is progressing without a whimper for nearly two-and-half years.

Reason: Imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC in December 2019 by the LDF government, prohibiting public gatherings at the island village. “Section 144 was imposed at IOC Puthuvype site on December 16, 2019, for one year. However, the government is yet to announce lifting of the clampdown. The police bandobast continues at the site, helping us ensure smooth implementation of the work,” said an IOC official on the condition of anonymity.

Puthuvype: Sec 144 helped resume work

The Rs 715-crore LPG import terminal, conceived in late 2000s, has two components: The Multi-User Liquid Terminal (MULT) jetty for unloading LPG at Cochin Port and LPG storage terminal at Puthuvype. While the initial project cost for MULT was fixed at Rs 225 crore, the import terminal’s cost was Rs 490 crore.

Work on MULT, which includes the cooking gas import facility by IOC, was completed on Puthuvype island this March. Work on the LPG terminal, which will eliminate the need to transport LPG from Mangaluru via road, is expected to wrap  up in the first half of next year, thanks to the police security, said officials.

IOC’s LPG terminal project received public attention when the Kerala State Pollution Control Board okayed it in 2013, when UDF was in power. Since then, the project faced disruptions at different times due to protests by residents, environmental activists and political parties, including CPM and Congress.

The stir continued even when the LDF came to power in 2016. Meetings of stakeholders convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan failed and in February 2017, IOC halted the project. The work resumed only after the prohibitory order was enforced.

“Puthuvype protests were very localised. This helped the government in containing them,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a Kochi-based thinktank.“At Vizhinjam, the protests are more widespread. The LDF government may not want to invite the wrath of local residents by using an iron hand, given the fact that it gained an upper hand in the Thiruvananthapuram district in 2021 assembly elections,” he said.

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