We will go ahead with Vizhinjam port plan, says Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, June 3 (IANS) The Kerala government is committed and will go ahead with the proposed Vizhinjam port, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday.

Last month two different committees that looked into the only proposal submitted by Adani Ports for setting up of the Vizhinjam Port near Kovalam had given it the green signal.

With the cabinet all set to give the nod, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that about a Rs.6,000-crore corruption was involved in the deal with Adani Ports.

Hence, Chandy called for an all-party meet over the issue.

“We (government) have decided to go ahead with this project as it has come to a stage which is now or never. At the all-party meeting the Left opposition did not speak a word about corruption, but asked for more details of the project,” Chandy said.

“We have told them all what can be given and that has not been put on the website will be given to them. We said certain things (taking into account the commercial secrecy) can be given only after the agreement is signed.”

“Certain issues raised by former chief minister V.S.Achuthanandan are not tenable, we have said to them that everything will be done in a transparent way and the interests of the state will be always safe guarded,” he added.

Since the model code of conduct for the assembly by-election to be held in Aruvikkara has come into force, the state government will now seek the permission of the Election Commission to make the next move on Vizhinjam.

Aruvikkara, along with the Vizhinjam port’s site, forms part of the Thiruvananthapuram parliamentary constituency.

“The Left opposition always says that we have always played truant with this project. But the fact of the matter is it was in 1991 when K. Karunakaran ruled the state, this proposal first came. During the Left rule (1996-2001), nothing happened and it was when A.K. Antony came in 2001 this project again took shape,” said Chandy.

He said it was strange that during the period (2006-11) when Achuthanandan wsas the chief minister, Adani was first invited and since he had a Chinese partner the Centre refused to give a security clearance.

“But now, this time when Adani submitted their tender, there was no Chinese partner. We have put the terms and conditions of the agreement of the Left government and ours on the website.”

“Anyone having a look at it can easily make out that our terms and conditions are much more favourable than the one they put it up. Hence, we will go ahead with this project at any cost,” the chief minister reiterated.

He also pointed out that the proposed Collachel port which is in Tamil Nadu but very close to the Kerala border, would become the biggest beneficiary if Kerala did not go ahead with Vizhinjam.

Sources in the know of things told IANS that as and when the Election Commission gives its nod, the government will begin the formalities for signing the agreement with Adani Ports.

When completed, Vizhinjam will enable ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-feet equivalent units) to dock here. The proposed port, located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

The Rs.4,000-crore first phase of the port is expected to be completed in three phases, with the first phase being ready by 2019.

Adani Ports was the lone bidder and sought Rs.1,635 crore as grant for the proposed port project.

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