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Kerala Congress Transcends Adani Phobia

The Congress-led UDF government had sat on the LoA for over a week after the party high command reportedly frowned at the selection of the Adani Group, known for its close ties with Modi.

Published: 19th July 2015 07:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th July 2015 08:36 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An alleged proximity of Adani Ports and SEZ with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the reason behind the long wait before the company finally got the letter of award (LoA) from the Oommen Chandy government for developing the Rs 7,525 crore Vizhinjam seaport project in southern Kerala.

The Congress-led UDF government had sat on the LoA for over a week after the party high command reportedly frowned at the selection of the Adani Group, known for its close ties with Modi. With the controversy safely out of its way now, the government expects to sign the concession agreement in a month’s time. “Chief Minister Chandy and I will meet top officials of the group on Monday in Thiruvananthapuram. We hope to announce the date of signing the agreement then,” said Kerala Ports Minister K Babu. Construction, he said, would begin on November 1 and would be completed in four years.

Oommen.JPGThe ambitious project envisages a container trans shipment and multi-purpose seaport in Vizhinjam, a fishing village in southern Thiruvananthapuram, which can handle vessels of upto 18,000 TEU capacity.

On selecting the Ahmedabad-based Adani Group, the state government had to scale multiple hurdles, including a single tender situation. The Opposition LDF’s objections to Adani forced Chandy to convene an all-party meeting on June 3. The meeting was inconclusive, but the government decided to go ahead with the tender on the grounds that it was a ‘now-or-never’ situation for Vizhinjam.

On June 10, the state cabinet gave its nod to Adani, accepting the request of Rs 1,635 crore as grant. However, the by-election in Aruvikkara necessitated by the death of Assembly Speaker G Karthikeyan forced the government to put off issuing the LoA. Although Babu declared on July 2 that it would be issued the next day, the government dithered reportedly owing to the Congress high command’s reservations.

While the state government has vehemently denied any ‘interference’ from New Delhi, highly-placed sources said that the Congress leadership had indeed objected to Adani. Alarmed over the possibility of more delays, senior leaders including A K Antony had intervened to placate the leadership, sources said. Since the Vizhinjam project had been a major poll plank in the by-election, inability to see it through would have caused a major embarrassment to the Congress. “The LoA was ready and it could have been released on July 3 or 4 itself,’’ said a senior port official.

Chandy, responding to the controversy, termed the reports baseless and attributed the delay to ‘technical’ issues. Babu echoed Chandy in denying that the delay had anything to do with the Congress leadership. “The state government has not discussed the project with the Congress leadership. Reports that the high-command had objected to Adani are baseless,’’ he said.

When the controversy refused to die out, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor came out with a statement on July 9 saying that, “The Congress has always put development above politics, and will continue to do so in the case of Vizhinjam.”

 

Docs remove Whistle from 11-year-old’s Lungs

Doctors at the Vellore Government Medical College in Tamil Nadu have removed a small plastic whistle from the lungs of 11-year old Yuvaraj from Sholinghur on Saturday without anesthetising the boy in a procedure that lasted for 15 minutes. College dean Dr Selvaraj said that this was the first time in the history of the hospital that a foreign body was removed from a small boy without using anesthesia. This procedure is common in big cities where such incidents involving children are common.

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Docs remove Whistle from 11-year-old’s Lungs

Doctors at the Vellore Government Medical College in Tamil Nadu have removed a small plastic whistle from the lungs of 11-year old Yuvaraj from Sholinghur on Saturday without anesthetising the boy in a procedure that lasted for 15 minutes. College dean Dr Selvaraj said that this was the first time in the history of the hospital that a foreign body was removed from a small boy without using anesthesia. This procedure is common in big cities where such incidents involving children are common.


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