The Kerala government is planning to develop a major business hub based on the model of those in Singapore or Shanghai, in the areas around Vizhinjam International Port, one of the largest transhipment container ports in the world, being constructed by Adani group.
Gateway for transhipment of cargo
Noting that Vizhinjam port is the most important gateway for the transhipment of cargo for India and neighbouring countries, Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal said on Tuesday the most important cities and industrial centres in the world have been developed adjacent to such ports. Highlighting the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government’s plan, Balagopal said “examples of port-cities including Dubai, Singapore and Shanghai are before us” and the areas around Vizhinjam port could also be developed on the same pattern. He said a vision about the development plans, comprising government, private entrepreneurs and property owners, has been unveiled in the 2023-24 budget.
In his budget speech, the Finance Minister had said that the Vizhinjam International Port is the most important chapter in the developmental horizon of Kerala and by utilising the possibilities of Vizhinjam, the government prepares for massive development projects modelled on major international ports.
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May become one of the largest ports
Balagopal said Vizhinjam can become one of the largest transhipment container ports in the world as it is located on a busy sea route where 70 per cent of cargo transportation takes place.
The Finance Minister further said it has been decided to construct a Ring Road comprising the 63 km long reach from Vizhinjam to Navaikulam via Thekkada in NH 66 and 12 km from Thekkada to Mangalapuram, as part of development of the surrounding areas of Vizhinjam Harbour into an extensive centre of industry and commerce.
“This will become the most important industrial corridor of the state. A township chain of industrial institutions, commercial centres and extensive accommodation facilities will emerge,” Balagopal said. He said an amount of Rs 1,000 crore is earmarked through KIIFB for land acquisition of this industrial corridor at an estimate of Rs 5,000 crore.
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The state government will take initiatives to develop industrial parks, logistics centres and residential areas with the involvement of the people living on either side of the Industrial Corridor.
In the budget, it has been said that development plans worth Rs 60,000 crore are expected to be implemented in the first phase by making use of land pooling system and PPP model.
Plan unveiled after protest called off
The government unveiled its plans for Vizhinjam months after the area witnessed a long protest by fishermen against the under-construction port, alleging unscientific construction, affecting their livelihood. The Latin Church-led protest was called off in the first week of December after discussions between the leaders of the stir and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
They had alleged that the unscientific construction of groynes, the artificial sea walls as part of the upcoming port, was one of the reasons for the increasing coastal erosion.
The protesters had also attacked Vizhinjam police station on the night of November 27, injuring several policemen.
(With Agency inputs)