The coastal community in Thiruvananthapuram is up in arms against Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport, alleging that their issues have not been addressed till now. The Adani ports had to stop the work for a day this week after the people led by Latin Catholic Church continued with its blockade in front of the Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport site.
The High Court has said that the constyruction of the work at Viozhinjam cannot be stopped. It directed that necessary police protection be granted to the officials and employees of the Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt, Ltd and its contractor to carry out the construction works of the Vizinjam International Seaport project.
VIZHINJAM INTERNATIONAL TRANSHIPMENT: WHY THE AGITATION
The fisher community mainly from the costal hamlets of Poovar and Puthiyathura are taking part in the day and night agitation. Moreover, the Church had also decided to intensify the protest in the coming weeks. In addition to the road blockade, a protest is also being planned from the seaside using boats on August 22.
One of the main demands of the agitators is to halt the port project and carry out a proper study on its negative impact. They point out that the unscientific construction of Groynes as part of the International Port was one of the reasons for the increasing coastal erosion in Thiruvananthapuram district. Noting that several families lost their homes because of this, they demand home and rehabilitation for all those affected.
VIZHINJAM INTERNATIONAL TRANSHIPMENT; GOVERNMENT
Expressing its inability to halt the project, the government assured all efforts to address the issues raised by the agitators. The government said that the cabinet sub-committee had decided to hand over the 17.5 acres of land belonging to the animal husbandry department at Muttathara for rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Antony Raju earlier said the state government could not take any decision on the Vizhinjam port construction on its own. “The National Green Tribunal, Supreme Court and the Centre have given nod for the construction of the container ship terminal at Vizhinjam. Hence the state cannot take any decision on the port construction,” he said.
VIZHINJAM INTERNATIONAL TRANSHIPMENT; CHURCH
The Latin Catholic Church, in a sense is leading the protest. As mark of protest they hoisted black flags in all churches under the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram. Each of the churches under the archdiocese has been assigned responsibility to lead the protest in the coming days. Vicar General of Latin Archdiocese Trivandrum Msgr. Eugine H. Pereira alleged that dredging for the Vizhinjam port caused coastal erosion in the district. He opined that the government should conduct a proper study into the effects of construction of the port. Proper rehabilitation of coastal communities, distribution of compensation, reduction of kerosene price etc are some of the other demands, he added.
VIZHINJAM INTERNATIONAL TRANSHIPMENT; CHALLENGE
The agitation led by Church has posed serious challenge to the government. The CPI (M) had the support of the Latin Catholics and the poor fishermen when the other Christian communities had an inclination to the Congress led United Democratic Front. Latin Catholics is known to make up about 13 per cent of the Christians in the state, which is a major vote bank. The CPI (M) leadership is much worried as they have a consolidated vote bank among the Latin Catholics in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituencies and as many as 20 assembly segments.