Vizhinjam port logo

All Party meeting: LDF opposes Government move to grant port project to Adani group.

Posted on 03 Jun 2015

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JUNE 3: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday asserted that his government would go ahead with the ₹7,000-crore Vizhinjam international port project, come what may.

He was addressing news persons after an all-party meeting apparently failed to arrive at a consensus over the mode of implementation of the project and other operational details.

The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF), while not rejecting the project per se, mounted stiff resistance, saying the State’s interests were sacrificed during the tender process. Emerging from the meeting, it alleged that the government had refused to share with it crucial details with regard to the mode of implementation. Adani Ports and SEZ is the sole bidder for the project.

But Chandy insisted that he and his government would not now like to be associated with any attempt to backtrack, as this is likely the last chance for the Vizhinjam project to take off. Any failure to clinch it would only benefit Colachel just to the south, in Kanya Kumari district of Tamil Nadu, which has staked a claim to host a similar project.

Document sharing

The Chief Minister was of the view that not all documents could be shared at this stage. Some of them have to wait until the government and the bidder enter into an agreement, he said.

He also dismissed specific criticism about the tender documents, which he said were a vast improvement on those prepared by the previous dispensation led by the LDF.

“Our bid documents align with the best interests of the State. Just consider the outright lease of land provided for them replaced with just a licence to operate the project,” Chandy said.

Further procedures would be carried out in as transparent a manner as possible, he added, saying: “The government would not brook any delay from now on. Any other State would have driven such a project to reality at least 25 years ago.”

Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari has warned the State government to “behave and be responsible.” He repeated his stance today in Mumbai, saying the project would be shifted to neighbouring Tamil Nadu if political issues in Kerala delay it any further.

The CPI (M), which leads the Opposition front, had demanded that the State government revive its idea for a landlord port project as against the ‘sell-out’ PPP model that allegedly favours the sole bidder.

But it is also forced to be cautious in view of the campaigning for the prestigious by-election to the Aruvikkara Assembly constituency. Aruvikkara, along with the Vizhinjam site, forms part of the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency.

Aruvikkara by-poll

Any decision against the project is likely to backfire on the Opposition that has set great store by the successful campaigning and ultimate win of its candidate and senior leader M Vijayakumar.

The State government had used the interregnum to unleash a publicity blitzkrieg to show how the Opposition has sought to undermine a project that has caught the imagination of trade and commerce in the city and has garnered a fair share of public opinion in its favour.

The eve of the all-party meeting on Wednesday saw scores of people from various strata of society take out demonstrations and stage a sit-in in front of the Secretariat here, demanding an early decision on the project.

Source : The Hindu , Business LIne