Alleges government, Planning Commission are party to it
Former Ports Minister M. Vijayakumar has accused the State government of being party to a conspiracy by an international ports lobby and the Planning Commission against the Vizhinjam international deepwater multipurpose seaport project.
Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Mr. Vijayakumar said the previous Left Democratic Front government had decided that the Vizhinjam project, after the proposed public-private partnership (PPP) model had failed three times, would be developed as a ‘landlord port,’ wherein the State would remain the owner and the private sector would come in only for the operations part. However, the Planning Commission recently suggested a PPP model and its infrastructure adviser, Gajendra Haldrea, during his recent visit had conveyed the same to the State government.
The Chief Minister, according to Mr. Vijayakumar, had now written to the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia that it was ready for a few PPP projects in the State, including the Vizhinjam seaport, the mono rail projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, a medical college in Haripad, and a few other projects.
This, Mr. Vijayakumar alleged, was part of a larger conspiracy by the international ports lobby, in which the Planning Commission was involved, to prevent the Vizhinjam project from becoming a reality. The landlord model was already on, as part of which the government was readying the infrastructure and resources and had invited global tenders for a private player to run the port’s operations. The PPP model, being brought in now, would upset all these plans and leave the port into the hands of the private sector, he said.
Unless there was a major public outburst against this attempt, the entire project would be lost, the former Minister said adding it was based on the advice of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that the PPP model was done away with and the landlord model adopted. The IFC had suggested this model based on comprehensive studies and calculations and that was now being dumped by the State government, he said demanding that the government review its move to bring back the PPP model.