Public hearing on Vizhinjam port expansion held amid dissent from Latin Church organisations

The representatives of the Thiruvananthapuram Matsyathozhilali Forum and Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) expressed concerns over the shortcomings in public hearings.
Vizhinjam international port
Vizhinjam international portPhoto | Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The public hearing on the Environment Impact Assessment draft for the second and third phases of Vizhinjam International Seaport in Thiruvananthapuram (VIST) was held amid objections raised by the organisations affiliated with the Latin Church, on Wednesday.

The representatives of the Thiruvananthapuram Matsyathozhilali Forum and Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) expressed concerns over the shortcomings in public hearings. They complained that only an English version of the draft, a 663-page document, was available till Tuesday night.

Vizhinjam international port
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“The Malayalam version of the draft was available only a day before the public hearing. That itself was a testimony of how the authorities wanted to treat the public hearing because people affected by the port expansion are from poor economic backgrounds. They have also failed to inform people in some of the panchayats directly affected by the project,” said State president of KLCA, Patrick Michael.

He recollected the the authorities ensured the participation of people affected by circulating the information in the parishes before the public hearing for the first phase in 2012.

The State Pollution Control Board conducted the public hearing in a packed house at Archana Auditorium in Venganoor. However, Patrick alleged that most people were Kudumbasree workers or BJP supporters who were given directions to fill up the hall.

Earlier the Forum and KLCA objected to the public hearing because the EIA draft falsified the ground realities and offered no solutions to the problems faced by the coastal communities affected by the project. They also showed pictures of the coastal erosion at Sankhumukham to highlight the impact of the project. The draft did not mention the report of the MD Kudale committee which was tasked by the government to study the impact of the project. District Collector Geromic George and a representative of Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL) attended the event.

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