Violating the assurances given to the Kerala High Court, the protesters in front of the under-construction Vizhinjam seaport here on Saturday blocked the trucks carrying construction materials to the site. The protesters, led by the Latin Catholic Church, had on November 22 assured the high court that they will not block any vehicles coming to the Vizhinjam seaport.
However, on Saturday, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the gate of the seaport, where the agitators have blocked the road by erecting a shed across the road and stopped the vehicles.
Meanwhile, a set of locals who support the project also came and took on the agitators pointing out that there was a high court direction with regard to the construction.
The high court had on November 22 warned the protesters that stern action will be taken against them if they failed to remove the obstructions.
The Adani Group, which is constructing the seaport, told PTI that the works restarted today based on a high court order.
“It’s been 102 days since the work has been halted here due to the protests. We had approached the state high court which gave us a favourable ruling. The high court had asked us to restart the work but this is the situation today also. Now, let the court take a decision,” a company spokesperson said.
The protesters blocked five trucks carrying construction materials.
The port, a Kerala government initiative, is currently being developed in a landlord model with a Public Private Partnership component on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (“DBFOT”) basis. The private partner, Adani Vizhinjam Port Private limited, commenced the construction on December 5, 2015 with a cost of Rs 7,525 crore.
The Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport authorities had said that 70 per cent of the work has now been completed.
The protesters have been demanding that the construction of the deepwater port be stopped and a proper environmental impact study should be carried out.
They have also put forward six other demands including rehabilitation of families who lost their homes to sea erosion, steps to mitigate coastal erosion, financial assistance to fisherfolk on days weather warnings are issued, compensation to families of those who lose their lives in fishing accidents, subsidised kerosene, and a mechanism to dredge the Muthalapozhi fishing harbour in Anchuthengu in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Earlier, the state government had made it clear that almost all the demands of the protesters were met except halting the construction work at the port.
The high court has multiple times asked the protesters not to block the road to the seaport premises and have asked the government to remove the shed erected by the agitators as part of their protests.
The state government had on November 7 told the high court that it was unable to demolish the protest tents at the Vizhinjam sea port due to the presence of children, pregnant women and aged persons among the agitators.
The protesters have been alleging that the unscientific construction of groynes, the artificial sea walls as part of the upcoming Vizhinjam port, was one of the reasons for the increasing coastal erosion.
The high court, on October 19, made it clear that its interim orders to remove obstructions created by protesters at the entrance of the port must be implemented by the State government.