The road was built without clearance under CRZ norms

The State government will tender an apology to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for constructing a road for the proposed Vizhinjam port without clearance under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations.

Complaints had gone from Vizhinjam from those opposing the project pointing out the violation of CRZ regulations indulged in by the government while constructing a 600-metre-long approach road to the site of the proposed port. These had become an embarrassment for the government at this crucial point of time, when the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF was considering the question of according environmental clearance for the more-than-Rs.5,000-crore project.

The board members of Vizhinjam International Seaports Limited (VISL), the government agency overseeing the efforts to set up the port, met at the Chief Minister’s residence on Thursday and decided to rush the government’s apology to the MoEF ahead of a sitting of the Expert Appraisal Committee, slated for Saturday, which would consider the VISL’s application for environmental clearance for the project. The matter had come up before the committee at two previous sittings. The road issue and some other complaints about the Environmental Impact Assessment done for the project and also the VISL’s replies to the complaints were now before the committee. “We are eagerly awaiting environmental clearance for the project. We will tender our apology for the slip on the part of the previous government [in constructing the road without CRZ clearance],” Minister for Ports K. Babu told presspersons after the VISL board meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence. The road was constructed during the 2006-11 period when the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was in the government.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan visited Vizhinjam area on Thursday and accused the “resort lobby” of trying to sabotage Kerala’s “dream project.” He said it was ironical that the MoEF should clear a project like the Aranmula airport, which the people of Aranmula did not want, whereas it should dither without any conceivable reason over the question of clearing the Vizhinjam project, which the people of Vizhinjam wanted sincerely.

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