Vizhinjam port: Adani calls on Kerala politicians ahead of MoU

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 17 (IANS) Adani Ports chief Gautam Adani on Monday morning called on top political leaders of Kerala, ahead of the signing of an agreement with the Kerala government for the construction of the Vizhinjam port.

Adani, who arrived here along with a 10-member team, first called on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleagues.

“This was a pre-agreement meeting. We will go ahead with this project and talk to all those who have expressed concerns about the project. All concerns would be addressed,” Chandy said after the meeting.

“Funds for the project are not a concern,” state Finance Minister K.M. Mani said.

Adani then drove to the official residence of leader of the opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, and remained with him for 20 minutes.

Achuthanandan is understood to have told Adani that even though he would not be present when the agreement is inked later in the evening, he was not against the port project.

Adani later held meetings with the state BJP leaders.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Sunday termed the MoU a “rip-off”.

The Kerala government will ink an agreement on Monday evening with Adani Ports for the proposed Vizhinjam port, 25 years after the project was first mooted.

The central government too will participate in the project, to be completed in three phases at a cost of around Rs.7,525 crore.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Adani Ports chief Gautam Adani would be present when the agreement is signed between state Ports Secretary James Varghese and Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Limited CEO Santhosh Kumar Mahapatra in the Durbar Hall of the state secretariat.

Though the first phase is expected to be ready in four years, Adani Ports officials told Chandy they would finish it in around two years.

Once completed, the port would enable ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-feet equivalent units) to dock.

TEU is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals.

The proposed port, located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

Adani Ports was the lone bidder and sought Rs.1,635 crore as grant for the project. It would operate the port for 40 years, extendable by another 20 years. The state government would get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years of operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to lay the foundation stone of the project on November 1, Kerala’s formation day.

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