The project in Kerala inked by the previous Congress-led UDF regime with the Adani Group in August 2015, was planned to make the seaport operational in 1,000 days. Set out to be inaugurated by December 2019, the project is well behind schedule.
While the ongoing protest by fishermen, backed by Church has entered its 80th day the Kerala government has appointed a four-member expert committee to study whether there has been any coastal erosion consequent to the construction of Adani Group’s Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL).
The committee would be headed by M Kudale, former additional director at Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune. Other members are Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies VC Dr Riji John, Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore associate professor Dr Tejal Kanitkar and Kandla Port Trust former chief engineer Dr PK Chandramohan.
The agitators have been alleging that construction has caused sea erosion resulting in loss of livelihood and dwellings. The construction has come to a standstill owing to the protest led by the Catholic Church.
The government order issued on October 6 asked the committee to identify specific measures to address the coastal erosion, if any, observed in the construction zone. The committee was also told to hear the views of the representatives of the local population before finalising the report.
Government had earlier maintained that Vizhinjam project had caused no erosion. It had rejected the demand of the fishermen to suspend the work so far.
The government held the view that as per the orders of the National Green Tribunal and the MoEF and CC, the shoreline changes and other environmental parameters are being continuously monitored over a distance of 20 km on either side of the port.
It also said that the same is analysed by expert institutions such as National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS) and L&T Infra Engineering Limited.
The Government had said that there has been no observation by the Expert Committee or Shoreline Monitoring Cell so far that the construction of the port at Vizhinjam has caused any coastal erosion at the north of the upcoming port at locations such as Valiyathura and Shanghumugham.
Now the government decided to appoint another expert committee following the allegation of the fishermen that the construction of the Vizhinjam seaport has caused coastal erosion around the port.
The general convener of the agitation, Thiruvananthapuram archdiocese Vicar-General Fr Eugine H Pereira has reacted to the development by saying “We were promised that our representative would be included in the committee. Now, the government has constituted a committee with the connivance of the Adani Group to fetch a favourable report for them.”
The agitators alleged that they are not taken into confidence. The fishermen’s community has also assigned a parallel study to ascertain the impact of sea erosion caused by the project.
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