Thiruvananthapuram: At a time when Kerala's dream port project - Vizhinjam - should have been in operation, the state Congress-led opposition on Thursday alleged that the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government was hand in glove with Adani group chief Gautam Adani, which could result in the project getting delayed indefinitely.
Addressing the media here, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said according to the agreement that Oommen Chandy government inked in 2015, the first ship should have berthed yesterday.
"Sadly, though, nothing of that sort happened as not even 25 per cent of the work has been completed. What's even unfortunate is yesterday Vijayan and his team was hanging around the Busan port in South Korea, when he should have at least come out with a statement on what's happening to Kerala's dream project," said Chennithala.
At the time of commencement of work on the port on December 5, 2015, Adani Ports owner Gautam Adani announced that the first ship will berth there on September 1, 2018, in a record time of less than 1,000 days.
This, however, did not happen, and the next important date deadline was was December 4, 2019, which was the original date of completion of the first phase.
"The two of them are now hand in glove as according to the agreement, if the port does not open in three months time, then Adani is liable to pay Rs 12 lakh for each day of delay to the Kerala government. We demand Vijayan to come out with all the details of what's happening in the port project. An audit should take place as we understand that Adani has utilised the amount that the state government has provided," added Chennithala.
Adani Ports CEO Rajesh Shah said they are working overtime and expect to complete the work and open for serviceby December 2020.
The total cost of the port project is Rs 7,525 crore, while the state government has contributed 500 acres of land.
The project stalled in 2017 after Ockhi waves hit the construction site and a portion of the constructed breakwater was washed away .
The total length of the breakwater is 3.1 km, while just around 25 per cent has been completed as there has been a huge shortage of limestone required for the construction of the breakwater.
"We suspect that with the government already informing the state assembly that the delay is caused due to Ockhi and shortage of limestone, as per the agreement, then Adani is not liable to pay the penalty for the delay. Generally whenever such a project begins, it's the opposition from the local people that delays, but such a thing has not occurred at Vizhinjam and despite that, the Vijayan government is yet to implement the promised rehabilitation package. We demand that the people should be told what's happening," said Congress legislator of Vizhinjam M.Vincent.
According to the plan, once completed, this would be one of India's deepest ports and 80 per cent of the country's cargo trans-shipments will go through here.
Adani Ports, which was the lone bidder for the project, had sought a Rs 1,635 crore grant for construction puposes.
According to the agreement, Adani will operate the port for 40 years, extendable by 20 more years, while the state government will get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years.