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Move to sabotage Vizhinjam project: Shashi Tharoor

Move to sabotage Vizhinjam project: Shashi Tharoor

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, MP, Thursday alleged that an attempt was underway to sabotage the Vizhinjam International deepwater Seaport project here.

Tharoor, the Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, said there were reasons to believe that international lobbies and domestic vested interests were at work to sabotage Vizhinjam port from becoming a reality.

Tharoor, director board member of VISL, the Special Purpose Vehicle company to implement the project, said political differences should not provide an opportunity for these forces to exploit the situation and deprive the last chance to make Vizhinjam transhipment port a reality.

He said that despite having steady economic growth over the years, over 70 per cent of India's container traffic is being transshipped at ports outside the country, mainly at Colombo, Singapore, Port Klang ( Malaysia), Salalah (Oman), and Jabel Ali (Dubai).

This is because India has no port near international sea routes to handle large mainline vessels. As a result Colombo trans-ships more Indian goods than India's ports.

Despite having many advantages, for various reasons, "we failed to attract a viable bid to build and operate the port in last 25 years", he said.

This bid, the fourth in the row, is the last chance for Vizhinjam. With each passing year, escalation in project costs, development of rival ports and competition from existing international and Indian ports poses serious challenges to the project's viability, he said.

"It is time we put development ahead of politics and embraced the bid in the interest of the people of Vizhinjam and its surrounds, Kerala and of India as a whole", he said.

Tharoor's statement comes in the background of the Kerala government's decision to convene an all-party meeting on June 3 to discuss the tender proposal of Adani Ports, the only bidder, for development of the multi-crore project in view of the charges and criticism from different quarters, including CPI-M led LDF to award the contract to Adani in the present form.

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