Stir against Vizhinjam port project: Kerala HC pulls up protesters
The Adani group said the ongoing agitation has crippled work for more than two weeks and it was turning into a big threat to its employees and installations
As protests by fishermen against the Vizhinjam port project in Thiruvananthapuram intensified, the Kerala high court on Monday pulled up demonstrators by saying construction work cannot be halted and that they must raise their complaints in with the appropriate forum.
A single bench of justice Anu Sivaraman observed that the agitation should not affect the ongoing work. “The protest can be registered, but it cannot affect the project. Protest can be registered in a lawful manner,” the court said, adding that if protestors have any complaints they can be raised in an appropriate forum. The court later posted the plea for detailed hearing on Wednesday and directed the government to file a reply.
Though the court on Friday ordered the police to maintain law and order, the Adani Port Private Limited and contracting firm Howe Engineering Projects said a big posse of policemen deployed at the work site were mere spectators to protestors who entered the port premises.
The Adani group said the ongoing agitation has crippled work for more than two weeks and it was turning into a big threat to its employees and installations as police failed to take appropriate steps. But the counsel for Latin Catholic Diocese, which is spearheading the stir, in Thiruvananthapuram said the agitation was proceeding in a peaceful manner and fishermen were forced to hit the street after their repeated pleas fell on deaf ears.
The ongoing work for the multi-utility transshipment port was disrupted for two weeks after protestors entered the site demanding suspension of all works. They alleged that large-scale construction and breakwater projects have affected their livelihood and earlier promises on rehabilitation were not met by the government.
The fishing community in the state capital, under the leadership of Latin Catholic church diocese, has raised a seven-point demand to end their agitation.
First is to stall all works and conduct a fresh environment impact study, second: immediate rehabilitation of affected families, third: effective steps to mitigate sea erosion and tetrapod sea walls along coast, fourth: financial assistance when weather warnings are issued, fifth: more kerosene at subsidised rates, sixth: compensation to the dead and those who lost their boats and nets, and finally: controlled dredging near Muthalapozhy, which has led to several mishaps.
Though the government held a series of talks, it failed to clinch a deal with protestors. It insisted that work was started after getting all clearances and it cannot be stopped when it entered a crucial stage. The first phase of the project is expected to be commissioned by October 2023.