LDF, UDF race for Vizhinjam port's credit; VD Satheesan cites Oommen Chandy's efforts

Satheesan and EP Jayarajan. Photo: Manorama News

Thiruvananthapuram: When the Kerala government is all set to officially welcome the first ship to the newly constructed Vizhinjam International Seaport, the LDF and UDF have started arguments for claiming credit for the project's realization. Opposition leader VD Satheesan and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala argued that former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is the person behind the realization of the project.

However, LDF convener EP Jayarajan said that Vizhinjam port construction is the achievement of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government.

A quarrel between the two fronts claiming the credit for the project made headlines after Congress leadership demanded that the port should be named after the late Oommen Chandy. Addressing the media here on Saturday, Satheesan pointed out that LDF had raised corruption charges against the Oommen Chandy government for granting the seaport tender to the Adani group.

“ Vizhinjam port stands as a symbol of Oommen Chandy-led UDF government's determination. Pinarayi Vijayan who was the then CPM secretary had alleged corruption of Rs 6000 crore when UDF took initiative for the seaport project worth Rs 5000 crore,” said Satheesan.

Vizhinjam port
Vizhinjam port. Photo: Manorama

He also charged the Vijayan government with 'sabotaging' the rehabilitation package for fishermen announced by the Chandy government as part of the port project. The LoP also said that the real credit for the Vizhinjam project goes to former CM Chandy and not Pinarayi Vijayan. 

Meanwhile, EP Jayarajan rubbished the opposition's criticism and reiterated that the port recognises the LDF government's success.

The quarrel between both fronts hints that Vizhinjam port may turn into a heated topic during the Lok Sabha polls.

The first ship that arrived at Vizhinjam port here carrying cranes from China was accorded a water salute by the tug boats which pulled the vessel into the Rs 7,700 crore deep-water international port on Thursday. The vessel -- Zhen Hua 15 -- which began its journey from China at the end of August was scheduled to dock at Vizhinjam on October 4, but its journey got delayed due to bad weather conditions along its route.

The government will officially welcome the vessel on Sunday at 4 pm. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister for Ports Sarbananda Sonowal will attend the event. Over 8,000 people are expected to participate in the ceremony. A huge number of people are flocking to the port to see the vessel.

The Vizhinjam port is being constructed under the public-private partnership model. Adani Group is the private partner in the development of Vizhinjam port, which is going to be one of the largest ports in the world once commissioned. The project, which was scheduled to be commissioned in 2019, got delayed due to several issues related to land acquisition. Vizhinjam had witnessed violent protests as fishermen in the area opposed the project, alleging that the port could adversely affect their livelihood.

(With PTI inputs)

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