Left boycotts Vizhinjam port ground breaking ceremony

Thiruvananthapuram: The Left opposition kept away from the ground-breaking ceremony for Kerala’s dream project – the Vizhinjam Port – on Saturday “on political grounds” but indicated they are supporting the venture.

Adani Ports chairman Gautam Adani, whose company is building the Rs.7,525 crore project, told reporters after calling on Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan that the Left has nothing against the project.

“They have fully supported the project but are keeping away for other reasons,” he said.

Balakrishnan said they are not taking part because the function is presided by state Ports and Excise Minister K.Babu, who is facing a corruption charge.

Speaking after the ground breaking ceremony, Adani said this project’s first phase would be ready in 1,000 days time.

“Vizhinjam, when completed, would be the mother port of India. The building of the project is going to be a difficult one because construction of the breakwaters here is the most toughest job in the maritime history of the country. But we will complete the first phase in 1,000 days,” he said.

Union Surface Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said that when it comes to development, there is no politics.

“We can fight during election time, but when it comes to development, we will support you and all the states in the same manner. This port project is not economically viable, but we decided to support it through viability gap funding to the extent of Rs.790 crore because world over, development of water transport is the order of the day.

“In 15 days time I will issue the order lifting the cabotage rules,” he said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that if Vizhinjam was in any other state in the country, this port would have become operational 25 years back.

“I fully agree with Gadkari that when it comes to development, we will set aside all differences and I call upon those people who are not here (Left) that whatever difference of opinion is there, it can be resolved, as we have to work for the development of the state. We are delighted that the project would be commissioned in 1,000 days – by September 1, 2018,” he said.Adani Ports won the contract for building the port, to come up near the famed tourist destination Kovalam, off the state capital.

The proposed Port to be completed in three phases and the agreement to this mega project was inked here on August 17.

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

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.

According to the agreement, Adani Port would operate the port for 40 years, extendable by 20 more years, while the state government would get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years of operations.