Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition has cornered the Left Democratic Front government over the deep-sea fishing pact with the US firm EMCC International. Contrary to government's claims, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself was in the know about the project aimed at opening up the fishing sector to overseas agencies.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the EMCC CEO Dovin had met the chief minister at the Cliff House, the latter's official residence. This was also confirmed by the India head of the US fishing company.
Chennithala dared the chief minister to deny the claim.
The chief minister had recently stated that the project was discussed only at the level of officials and the government was not aware of the details
But EMCC International (India) president Shiju Varghese too had claimed that he and company CEO had gone to the Cliff House along with fisheries minister Mercykutty Amma.
We held discussions with the CM, Shiju claimed.
The meeting was held in August 2019. The chief minister had sought details of the project and tried to understand its various aspects, he clarified.
Mercykutty Amma however refuted the allegations saying only she had met the EMCC CEO and there was no meeting with the chief minister.
Earlier Chennithala had brought in public domain the documents related to the MoU signed between the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) and the EMCC and also on the transfer of 4 acre to the company.
"The CPM which once raised the slogan that the American model should be thrown into the Arabian Sea is now filling the Arabian Sea with American ships," Chennithala remarked.
'Scrap the MoU'
While making the documents public the opposition leader said that if the government had no wrong intentions then it should scrap the MoU signed with the company.
KSIDC MD M G Rajamanikyam had signed the MoU with EMCC International (India) president Shiju Varghese at the investors meet "Ascend" organised by the government in February last year.
The MoU was signed by Rajamanikyam as the representative of the state government. The MoU says the company would invest Rs 5,000 crore as part of the deep-sea fishing project. The project would also create jobs for 25,000 people.
The KSIDC had also sanctioned land for EMCC at Pallipuram in Cherthala on February 3. The land was given at a rate of Rs 1.37 cr per acre. In all four acres was given to EMCC for Rs 5.49 crore and transferred for a period of 30 years.