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Business News/ News / India/  Adani Vizhinjam port: Protest called off for now after talks with CM Vijayan

Adani Vizhinjam port: Protest called off for now after talks with CM Vijayan

The calling off of the agitation was announced by Vicar General Eugene Pereira, who has been seen at the forefront of the protests

Police officers stand guard near the barricades during a protest rally by the supporters of the proposed Vizhinjam port project in the southern state of Kerala.  (HT_PRINT)Premium
Police officers stand guard near the barricades during a protest rally by the supporters of the proposed Vizhinjam port project in the southern state of Kerala. (HT_PRINT)

Following discussions between the agitation's leaders and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the over 130-day-long protest by fishermen against the currently under construction Adani Group's Vizhinjam sea port was temporarily called off on Tuesday. Vicar General Eugene Pereira, who has been spotted leading the agitation, announced the end of the protest.

"For now we are calling it off. Protests do not always come to an end only after achieving their objectives. Each protest has several phases. One such phase of the protest has ended in a consensus," Pereira told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister.

The state government assured to provide a rent of 5,500 for those who lose their habitat, and subsidies for fuel for boats & to complete the ongoing rehabilitation flats in one year.

He clarified, however, that despite their satisfaction with the actions taken or pledges made by the state government, the protest was not being suspended. He added that they would resume the agitation if necessary and said, "We have not reached this decision because we are satisfied.

Several rounds of discussions were held during the day before the protest was called off, a source in the Chief Minister's office told PTI. A meeting with the CM followed initial discussions between the protestors' representatives and a cabinet subcommittee, according to the source. After that, according to the source, the CM and the subcommittee met with protestor representatives.

A source at the Adani Group, which is building the port, told PTI that the company won't start working until it receives an official message from the state government. Pereira told reporters in the evening that the discussions did not produce a satisfactory resolution with regard to the seven demands they made.

Additionally, he claimed that despite the government's repeated assurances that a protestor representative would be included on the committee looking into local coastal erosion, to date no action has been taken in that direction.

In response to the question of whether the state government would pay rent for people who had to leave their homes due to coastal erosion or other natural disasters, Pereira said the administration had increased the amount from the previous 5,500 to 8,000. He said they ultimately decided to only request 5,500 because the Adani Group's CSR fund would cover the remaining 2,500.

Pereira also stated that the protesters and the priests leading the agitation had not even been charged with the offences listed in the various cases filed against them, which is why they had requested a judicial investigation into the violent incidents.

He stated that they intend to ask the courts for the same thing. Intense discussion about the ongoing protests against the currently under construction Vizhinjam sea port project took place in the state assembly earlier in the day. Vijayan expressed scepticism about the possibility that outside forces were orchestrating the uprising.

The Chief Minister made it clear that the massive infrastructure project would not be abandoned because it was essential for the development of the southern state, even though he stated that the government wanted to resolve the matter amicably within the bounds of the law and sought everyone's support to participate in the process.

While vehemently criticising the LDF government's handling of the situation, the opposition insisted that they did not support scrapping the multi-billion dollar project. The leader of the opposition, V D Satheesan, claimed that the community of fishermen was the one dealing with difficulties, including problems like losing homes and sources of income due to coastal erosion, skyrocketing prices of kerosene and diesel, and so forth.

He also expressed doubt whether there was any secret tie-up between the government and the Adani group and the recent violent incidents were part of plans to get a favorable judgement from the high court in this regard.

The CM strongly refuted the opposition's assertion and stated that numerous official rounds of negotiations took place under the auspices of a ministerial subcommittee, in addition to numerous unofficial discussions conducted through additional channels.

Over the past four months, a massive group of fishermen have been holding protests outside the multipurpose seaport's main entrance in the neighbouring town of Mulloor. They have been pressing for the completion of a coastal impact study and the cessation of construction as part of their seven-point charter of demands for the multi-crore project.

The agitators claim that one of the causes of the worsening coastal erosion is the groynes, the artificial sea walls built as part of the new port, which were built without using proper science. On the evening of 27 November, protesters attacked the Vizhinjam police station, inflicting injuries on a number of officers.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated: 06 Dec 2022, 10:57 PM IST
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