Centre promoting Tuticorin to gain support from Tamil Nadu

The Congress-led Union government was playing out a well-planned conspiracy to edge the Vizhinjam International seaport out from contention and instead promote the Tuticorin port so that it could gain the favour of Tamil Nadu to stay in power, former Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has said.

Inaugurating a mass agitation at Vizhinjam here on Monday led by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in protest against the neglect by the State and Central governments of the Vizhinjam project, Dr. Isaac said the recent announcement in the Union budget of a Rs.7,500-crore outer harbour project at the Tuticorin port was an effort to keep the support from Tamil Nadu to the Union government intact. That this largesse came from a government that had been raising every possible opposition to the Vizhinjam port, going to the extent of even citing security concerns over the use of Chinese technology here, was proof enough that the Centre was not interested in the Vizhinjam project becoming a reality.

Kerala had eight Union Ministers, but none of them stood up or fought for the State’s interests, he said, pointing out that no new Centrally supported industrial project had come to the State ever since the United Democratic Front (UDF) took over, and even existing projects were on the verge of being put on the backburner.

Once the expansion project for the Tuticorn project materialised, nearly half of Kerala would in fact be reduced to being the port’s hinterland and then the Centre would raise the question of the very purpose of the Vizhinjam port.

Vizhinjam, as per cost-benefit analysis, would be termed unviable and inevitably be shut down, he said.

The Centre, in fact, Dr. Isaac said, had been raising objections right from the inception of the Vizhinjam project and now, the State government had taken up from the Centre the job of spoiling the future of the project by literally doing nothing for the last two years. Contrary to Ports Minister K. Babu’s claims, the project was yet to get any environmental clearance from the Centre. All it had was an environmental impact assessment report, he said.

The LDF would not try to bring down the government, but instead, would drum up public support against the UDF’s anti-people and anti-development policies. The Vizhinjam agitation was just a start, he added.

Former Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran presided over the function while former Ministers M. Vijayakumar and V. Surendran Pillai, V. Sivankutty and Jameela Prakasam, MLAs, CPI (M) district secretary Kadakampally Surendran and other LDF leaders spoke.