Water scheme, treatment plant inaugurated

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that a time frame is being set for each procedure for the Vizhinjam International Seaport project. There is no question of more modifications to the port model.

After inaugurating the long-awaited water treatment plant and water supply scheme at Vizhinjam set up as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility programme of the project on Thursday, Mr. Chandy said allegations that the United Democratic Front (UDF) government was trying to delay the project were baseless. There were several obstacles, starting from getting environmental clearance for the project, and these were being sorted out.

The port would continue to be developed on the landlord model, Mr. Chandy said. If Vizhinjam was not in Kerala, the project would have been completed at least 25 years before. No more controversies were needed. He hoped that the port would be completed soon, just like the Kerala Water Authority had completed the treatment plant and supply scheme in a record 14 months.

Earlier, Ports and Fisheries Minister K. Babu said delay occurred because the UDF government had to start procedures from the scratch since the previous LDF regime had neglected basic initial steps.

The delay, in fact, was now turning to be a blessing with the revised master plan now upgrading the port to receive mother vessels of 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), a capacity that few other ports in the world had. Apart from this, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard were being allotted a 500-metre berth and 120-metre berth respectively, helping the government earn an additional Rs.620 crore.

A cruise terminal and fish landing centre too were being incorporated into the master plan, he said. The old port at Vizhinjam too was being revived as a customs port, which would facilitate a three per cent subsidy for exports from here.

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor; Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar; Jameela Prakasham, MLA; Port Managing Director A.S. Suresh Babu; KWA Managing Director Ashok Kumar Singh were present.