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Resistance against transhipment terminal gains momentum again

Friday, 08 March 2019 | 00:00

Barely within 24 hours after the Special Purpose Vehicle for executing the Kanniyakumari port project was launched by the Union government, those who are opposing the establishment of International Container Transhipment Terminal in the district have vowed to stop it.

Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, former civil servant and chairman of ‘Rebuild Kanniyakumari’ M.G. Devasahayam, who chaired the meeting of those who are opposed to the project, said it was thought that the project had been shelved as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his recent visit to the district, did not make any reference to it while laying foundation stone for a few development schemes.

However, Union Minister of State for Shipping and Finance Pon. Radhakrishnan had announced on Tuesday that a Special Purpose Vehicle had been launched for executing Kanniyakumari Port Limited, in which VOC Port Trust, Thoothukudi, Chennai Port Trust and Kamarajar Port Trust, Ennore, have planned to invest.

Following stiff resistance from people, the earlier proposal to establish the terminal at Enayam was dropped. Now the project had been shifted to Mugilan Kudiyiruppu between Kovalam and Keezha Manakkudi near Kanniyakumari, an area abuzz with farming activities. Since this new site falls under Coastal Regulatory Zone – I, no construction activity could be taken up.

Even though the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest had issued notification for conducting a survey for Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in the proposed site, neither EIA nor Social Impact Assessment was conducted though it was mandatory. Consequently, no budgetary allocation was made for executing the project while ₹24,000 crore had been earmarked for the development of VOC Port, situated just 80 km away Thoothukudi.

Moreover, work on Vizhinjam Port, the container transhipment terminal in Kerala, situated just 60 km from Kanniyakumari, was about to be completed. “So there is no need for one more terminal in the region since it will not be economically viable also while having adverse impact on environment,” said Mr. Devasahayam.

He also charged that the VOC Port, in a bid to get clearance for the project, had concealed the fact that the proposed site falls under CRZ – 1. “Since the VOC Port had stated in its application that the site identified for the new port fell under CRZ – 3, we’ve sent legal notice to the port for which no reply has been received. This is not a project for development, but for devastation,” Mr. Devasahayam said.

President of Anti-Kanniyakumari International Container Transhipment Terminal Project S. Prabha; president of Rebuild Kanniyakumari Thomas Franco; president of Coastal People Development Movement Mariadoss; president of Vidiyal Iyakkam Sridhar; Vicar Forane Rev. Fr. Romalus; Rev. Fr. Maria Soosai of Golpin Movement participated in the meeting.
Source: The Hindu

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