Revitalization of VISL put on halt as fisherfolk block Vizhinjam from land to sea

The government’s vision of revitalizing the ancient port of Vizhinjam – a historically significant hub for trade since Roman times as Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL) has come across a major speed bump.

The INR 7,525-crore deep-water terminal at Vizhinjam, near Thiruvananthapuram, being developed in the landlord model of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. (APSEZ), is believed to cause sea erosion and result in a potential loss of traditional livelihood in the region.

Concerned with the same, the fisherfolks on the southern coast of Kerala have been protesting for over a week in front of the gate of Adani Groups’ Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram.

The protester moved over barricades and broke open the lock on the main entryway. Besides, they likewise did a vehicle protest rally with more than 500 vehicles which initiated at 9 am and a disturbance on water with boats was hailed off from the Vizhinjam fishing harbor.

Taking turns for the 24×7 sit-in, the fishermen are demanding rehabilitation and a permanent solution for sea erosion while alleging that hundreds of acres of coastal land were destroyed when the construction work started.

Head by the Latin Catholic Church, the fishermen’s protest is intensifying by the day. To withdraw the protest, the fisherfolks have put forth seven demands. Protesters have demanded that the project should be halted and a proper study should be carried out on its negative impact. Also, they want the rehabilitation program to be expanded to all affected people.

With the protest gathering momentum, the construction activities have begun to experience adverse effects. The port officials informed the protest leaders about halting the work. The representatives went inside the project area to verify the company’s version.

The protesters said that the protest will continue till the end of the month.

The Kerala government has had discussions on the same, agreeing to meet five of the seven demands. However, it was an oral assurance and they want it in writing. A cabinet sub-committee has decided to hand over the 17.5 acres of land belonging to the animal husbandry department at Muttathara for rehabilitation measures.

Adani Port is building two transshipment ports in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Vizhinjam, Kerala. This world-class, future-ready port will be the only transshipment hub in the Indian subcontinent, closest to the international shipping routes, centrally located on the Indian coastline.

The port will address India’s glaring lack of a massive seaport with the required draft for Mother Ships — large ships — to call in the south. It has an natural draft of 20-24 m & minimal littoral drift. 

Vizhinjam Port offers large-scale automation for quick turnaround of vessels with state-of-the-art infrastructure to handle Megamax containerships. The port, as a transshipment hub,

shall be capable of handling the largest mainline vessels with a capacity of 18000 TEUs. 

Once completed it will help prevent huge time and cost overruns for businesses here, as one can move containers to the destination the same day by rail or road.

Moreover, the port facilitates 2,000 meters of berthing space for containers with a draught of 18.4 meters. Its capacity in phase 1 is to be 1 million TEUs and in subsequent phases, another 6.2 million TEUs will be added, by adding berths which will entail further environment clearance.

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