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Cabotage exemption to upcoming Vizhinjam Port

Cabotage exemption to upcoming Vizhinjam Port

Thiruvananthapuram: Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari Saturday announced cabotage exemption to upcoming Vizhinjam International Seaport for which the foundation stone was laid here this evening by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Addressing the gathering after the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Rs 7,525 crore first phase of the multipurpose port here, Gadkari said, "Effective today we have decided to exempt the Vizhinjam port from the controversial cabotage law. An order to this effect will be issued in a fortnight."

But the minister did not speak about a likely exemption for the other existing ports.

This is the first major port project getting such an exemption even before the work on it has begun.

The country's first international transshipment terminal at Vallarpadom near Kochi got such a relaxation only for three years beginning September 2012. The terminal, being operated by state-run Kochi port along with the Dubai-based DP World was commissioned in February 2011. The three year exemption ended in September this year.

For Kerala, this is a dream come true for the state, after 25 years of the idea being mooted by the late Congress chief minister K Karunakaran in 1991.

For a state known for its militant labour unions and anti-capitalist sentiment this is the single largest investment in an infrastructure project. And according to the chief minister this is the beginning of a new chapter in its history.

CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front Opposition kept away from the function protesting corruption charges against the chief minister and ports and fisheries minister K Babu, in the Solar and Bar scams respectively. LDF had also opposed certain terms and conditions of the construction agreement holding that they were not favourable to the state.

Addressing the gathering, Adani group chairam Gautam Adani said his experience in working with the state administration has been exemplary.

The company will complete the work in 1000 days, he said and also announced a Rs 35 crore rehabilitation package for the local people who had given up their land by extending educational facilities, water and sanitation.

Chandy sought LDF's cooperation for the early completion of the project and urged the front "not to mix development with politics."

"Those who gave up their land, houses and means of livelihood for making the project a reality did not see any politics. We should keep that in mind," he, adding, "There should not be politics in development matters but what is needed is cooperation".

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