Nearly a quarter of a century after being first mooted, the Vizhinjam Port proposal has been finally cleared with Adani Ports to launch the work on November 1, Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy said here on Wednesday.
“We have decided to clear the project and it has been decided to hand it over to the lone tender of Adani Ports,” Chandy told reporters here after the weekly cabinet meeting.
“We announce to the people of Kerala that on November 1, which is Kerala’s formation day, the work for the Vizhinjam Port will begin and nothing is going to stop this dream project from going ahead,” Chandy said.
Last month, two different committees that looked into the only proposal submitted by Adani Ports for setting up the Vizhinjam Port near Kovalam, a beach town, had given go-ahead.
And, as the cabinet was all set to give its approval, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan had alleged that there was a Rs.6,000-crore corruption involved in the deal with Adani Ports.
Hence, Chandy called an all-party meet to clear the air.
“At the all-party meeting, the Left opposition was demanding that all agreements have to be made public. The only document that was not uploaded was related to the final bid,” state Ports Minister K. Babu told reporters.
“We have now got legal opinion that it can also be uploaded and it has been done,” he added.
Since the Model Code of Conduct for the assembly by-election to be held in Aruvikkara assembly constituency has come into force, the state government will now seek the permission of the Election Commission to make the next move on signing agreements with the Adani Ports on Vizhinjam Port.
“The chief secretary has been asked to look into all such matters and the first thing that the Adani Ports has to do is to set up a special purpose vehicle so as to ink the agreements and from then on it would be their duty and on Kerala Day we will begin the work for the port,” Babu added.
Vizhinjam, when completed, will enable ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-feet equivalent units) to dock here.
The proposed port, located close to the busy international shipping route, is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.
The Rs.4,000-crore first phase of the port is expected to be completed in three phases, with the first phase being ready by 2019.
Adani Ports was the lone bidder and had sought Rs.1,635 crore as grant for the proposed port project.