Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his ministers frantically tried to wash their hands of the controversial deal for deep-sea trawling by passing the buck or feigning ignorance.
A bureaucrat was even blamed for concluding the apparently anti-fisherfolk contract with the Indian wing of the American entity EMCC Global Consortium LLC.
Fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma who had even disparaged the IAS officer, Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) MD N Prasanth, now stands exposed as government documents clearly reveal that she had twice examined the file submitted by the EMCC in connection with the deep-sea trawling project.
The documents prove that the minister's claim that the fisheries department was not aware of the project and the entire responsibility for signing the MoU was that of the KSINC is false.
The official trail
According to the documents available through the government's e-Office citizens portal, the fisheries department had started the action on EMCC application on August 9, 2019. On October 19 fisheries principal secretary K R Jyothilal handed over the file to minister Mercykutty Amma. The minister returned the same to the secretary on October 21. Prior to that on October 3, the principal secretary had written to the Ministry of External Affairs seeking details about the EMCC in the United States.
On November 1, Jyothilal again handed over the file to the minister. The minister returned the same on November 18. The notings made by the minister on the file twice are not available on e-file website now.
It was only after these official review that the project was taken up at the ASCEND investors' summit. Subsequently, the KSIDC signed the MoU with EMCC. The file movement happened in the fisheries department till December 2. However, the file was disposed of following the controversy.