Vizhinjam Port, Thiruvnanthapuram
Vizhinjam port was one of the reasons for the increasing coastal erosion in the district, allege protestors

Vizhinjam port: As protests intensify, Adani Group takes Kerala govt to court

The ongoing protests against the Vizhinjam port by the fishermen community in Kerala seem to have strained relations between the Adani Group and the state government.

The Adani Group has filed a contempt petition in the Kerala High Court against the government’s alleged failure to comply with the court’s order to provide police protection to employees and workers during the construction work at the transshipment port site.

‘Govt failed to protect workers, port employees’

The company, in its plea, has alleged that the state government failed to protect the life of the officials of the port as well as contractors and workers on site.

Adani Port Ltd alleged that despite the court’s order, thousands of protesters marched to the proposed port site and toppled the barricade, causing massive destruction to the port site.

Also read: Vizhinjam port: Protests intensify even as compensation amount spirals

The plea said construction work of the port is getting stalled as the protesters are blocking the free movement of the vehicles carrying raw material, and are delaying the project completion.

The Adani Group also urged the high court to give necessary directions to the government to deploy central forces at the project site to provide security to employees and workers.

Port authorities twisting facts, say protesters

Protesters, however, have accused the Adani Group of twisting facts. “Even otherwise, no construction has been happening in the project area for the past three months. They halt the construction every year in June, July and August due to the rough weather. This year, it has been extended till September. It is not true that they had to stop the construction because of the protest,” Fr Eugene H Perera, the Latin Archdiocese vicar general, told The Federal.

Fr Eugene Perera met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and submitted a representation, seeking the support of Congress for the protesting fishermen.

“I requested him to make the Congress’s stand clear with regard to the Vizhinjam project. It was the Congress-led UDF government that had brought the project in 2015. Rahul Gandhi listened to us patiently and promised to look into the matter,” Fr Perera told The Federal.

Protesters allege that by the time, a third of the construction work was completed, over 500 houses were washed off while more than 600 houses are on the verge of collapse.

The protesters have also urged Rahul to bring a bill in the Parliament that would ensure that fishermen have certain rights over the sea and coastal land.

The protesters say the construction of the port is detrimental not only for fishermen but for tourism too.

Also read: ‘Adani should go back’: Fishermen intensify protest against Vizhinjam port

“Shangumuhgam beach is lost irreversibly, Kovalam beach is also facing fast coastal erosion. Around six beaches in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam are facing the threat of erosion,” says Fr Eugene Perera.

What triggered Adani vs govt fight?

The conflict between the government and Adani Group has a set of other reasons too. The Adani Group refused to give compensation to the government for the delay in the commissioning of the project as was mandated in the MoU signed in 2015. As per the agreement, the project was supposed to be completed by December 2019. The cure period of 270 days as stipulated in the contract also got over by March 2020. Adani group is supposed to shell out ₹12 lakh a day since, as compensation to the government, but the matter is under dispute and is being heard by the arbitration tribunal.

The climate is rough for the Adani Group due to multiple factors. The protesters declared that they would not budge from the agitation but will only strengthen the same until all their demands raised are met.

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