Fishermen express concerns over possible handover of Valiyathura project to Adani Grouptext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: The coastal town of Valiyathura in Kerala is at the centre of a brewing controversy as the Kerala Ports Department prepares to launch a significant development project encompassing the Maritime Board headquarters, warehouses, and the Valiyathura sea bridge.
The government's decision to call for a global tender for this project has raised eyebrows and sparked concerns among the local fishing community who fear a potential takeover by the Adani Group.
Valiyathura's strategic location, nestled between the Vizhinjam International Port and Thiruvananthapuram Airport, has led to the recognition of its high commercial potential. As part of the ambitious plan, expressions of interest will be solicited, and further steps will be taken to implement the project through a public-private partnership. An international consultancy is also set to be formed for this purpose.
During a recent meeting at the Chamber of Ports, led by Minister Ahmed Devarkovil, discussions revolved around investor meetings and the potential involvement of the central government's 'Sagarmala Project.'
While the government emphasizes the economic benefits and local development opportunities of a public-private partnership model, scepticism persists among local residents.
The fishing community, represented by Tony Oliver, President of the Kambavala (Shore Seine) Fishermen's Federation and former Corporation Councilor, alleges that the government's move is a thinly veiled attempt to sell off the Valiyathura area.
Oliver points to a previous visit by Ministers Antony Raju and Ahmed Devarkovil in September 2021 when they announced impending renovations, suggesting that the current discussions are leaning more towards a sale than restoration.
Valiyathura, in recent years, has faced coastal erosion issues, resulting in the collapse of hundreds of houses along its coastline. The deteriorating conditions have also affected the livelihoods of the local fishing community, who blame the nearby Vizhinjam port for exacerbating the erosion problem. In response, fishermen initiated a 140-day strike in protest.