There is hopeful expectation and concern in the State as the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), on Saturday, takes up the Vizhinjam port project to consider environmental clearance.
The EAC had been in session in New Delhi since Thursday and would end on Saturday. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, prepared by consultants L&T Ramboll, is the 35th item on the list of 36 new project proposals being looked into by the EAC during this session.
The State government, all political parties and organisations campaigning for the development of Thiruvananthapuram district, where Vizhinjam is located, are supporting the project. Their expectation is that the setting up of a deepwater container transhipment port would be an impetus to the development of the region.
It is a politically important project for the UDF government in the State. Opposition political parties also see it as their project, since much work was done during the time of the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) to bring this proposal to fruition.
The Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, a fishermen’s organisation enjoying significant following, on Friday, wrote to the Member Secretary of the committee stating that the concerns the fishermen’s organisations had raised in writing at the public hearing on the EIA report had not been addressed in the final report now before the EAC.
Similarly, the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association wrote to the committee pointing out five specific points of ‘contradiction’ from ‘ground reality’ it had noticed on the first reading of the final EIA report now on the MoEF website. Coastal Watch, said the ‘errors’ the group had pointed out in the draft EIA report, with respect to the EIA’s compliance with the terms of reference specified by the MoEF, had not been addressed in the final report, now partially available on the website.