Vizhinjam port stir called off after talks with CM Pinarayi Vijayan
The Adani group announced its decision to resume construction activities of the seaport without any delay. It also decided to withdraw contempt and other petitions pending before the high court
A day after the Latin Catholic church and fishermen community called off the strike against the upcoming multi-utility seaport in Vizhinjam being built by the Adani group in south Kerala, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said rehabilitation of the coastal people and protection of their livelihood will remain top priorities for the government.
Speaking at the state assembly on Wednesday, CM Vijayan said the government is committed to the infrastructure development of Kerala, but such projects should be implemented in a humane and locally-acceptable way.
Also Read: Vizhinjam port project work to continue come what may, says Kerala CM
He further talked about the agreement reached with protestors, ending 138-day-long agitation. Out of seven demands raised by the protestors, the government accepted five, he said.
The CM said that the government is working towards the rehabilitation of displaced fishermen.
“Rehabilitation of displaced fishermen will be completed in one and a half years. Flats and houses will be built for them. And those staying in rented accommodation will continue to get ₹5,500 rent and for new ones, two months’ advance will be given” he said adding that exclusive space will be built near their dwelling to keep their nets and other equipment.
Further, the chief minister said the existing kerosene engines of boats will be converted to diesel and petrol engines and a one-time subsidy will be given to the fishermen community.
“An expert team will be constituted to study coastal erosion and other issues and the chief secretary will monitor the progress of issues settled during the talks,” he said.
“We will also compensate the fishermen who were barred from entering the sea in view of rough weather conditions. In Muthalapozhi, where many fishing accidents occur, the government will talk to experts to take steps to avert mishaps,” the CM said.
Experts believe the latest agreement is a ‘face-saver’ for both, protestors and the government.
“Both, government and protestors, were looking for an opportunity to clinch and they did before it was too late,” said A Jayshankar, a political observer.
Also Read: Kerala govt to HC: No problem with central forces in Vizhinjam
However, the church, which feel otherwise, said it was not fully satisfied with the settlement.
“The protest was not called off because we are satisfied with the steps taken by the government. It has reached a certain stage and it is only a temporary truce,” said Eugene Periera, vicar general of the church.
As the strike was withdrawn on Wednesday, the Adani group announced its decision to resume construction activities without any delay. It also decided to withdraw contempt and other petitions pending before the high court (HC).
The 138-day-long strike against the construction of a multi-utility seaport was called off on Tuesday after a meeting between the anti-port agitation committee and chief minister Vijayan. The fishermen community has been on the warpath for four months alleging port construction triggered massive coastal erosion taking away their dwellings and livelihood.
Five points agreed upon by the government and fishermen community:
1. A permanent rehabilitation programme for displaced people: The government announced a programme called “Punagreham” worth ₹2,450 crore to build houses and flats in 18 months.
2. Subsidy for kerosene: ₹25 a litre subsidy will continue. The government will provide a one-time subsidy to shift kerosene engines to diesel or patrol.
3. Relief on days with adverse weather warnings: Steps will be taken to provide jobs under the ‘Mahatama Gandhi job guarantee’ and other employment schemes.
4. Solution towards coastal erosion: State will set up an expert panel to study the impact. Another committee will be set up under the chief secretary to study coastal protection measures.
5. Resolving issues at Muthalapozhi: Government has approached Pune-based central water and power research station to study the issue.
1. Construction activities to be stopped: Government said work will continue to build the port.
2. Rented accommodation for those living in go-downs and schools: Protestors demanded a rent hike from ₹5,500 to ₹8000. Adani group was ready to pay ₹2,500 to increase it but it was refused by the protestors.