‘International port lobby trying to scuttle Vizhinjam project’

September 20th, 2008 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 20 (IANS) An international port lobby and some vested interest groups are trying to scuttle the proposed Vizhinjam port, one of the biggest in the country, state Ports Minister M. Vijayakumar said here Saturday.The project, to be come up in Vizhinjam near the popular tourist destination of Kovalam, got the final approval from the union shipping ministry Wednesday.

Once complete, the port would handle 4.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) per annum. Currently, the country’s 12 major ports together handle 4.61 million TEUs per annum.

Vijayakumar told reporters that the international port lobby, which has interest in the Dubai, Colombo and Singapore ports are worried that a major chunk of their business will be lost to Vizhinjam port.

“They have managed to get hold of some section of people like real estate giants, hotel and resort owners in and around Vizhinjam and also from the nearby state of Tamil Nadu. Now they are pumping in money to spread canards that thousands of families would be evicted,” the minister said.

He said Wednesday that Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan called an emergency meeting of people’s representatives and locals and briefed them about the project.

“He has assured that in all 1,088 hectares of land would be required and only 227 families will be evicted. If there is no other option, we will be forced to expose those behind spreading canards for creating misunderstanding in the Vizhinjam area to raise tension among the people,” Vijayakumar said.

A consortium comprising Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Pvt Ltd, Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd and Lanco Infrastructure Ltd, will develop the project in two phases.

“The coming two months are very crucial because we will be entering into the crucial agreements with the consortium and it is at that time that this international lobby is playing spoil sport. We just cannot afford to have a controversy because it would affect the port,” added the minister.

The state government will invest Rs.1.6 billion ($35.5 billion) to set up the basic infrastructure like water, electricity, railways tracks and roads.

A major advantage of Vizhinjam port will be that with a natural depth of 24 metres - among the deepest in the world - it would not require any dredging.

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