Agitators cannot hold up Vizhinjam port works, says HC

Hearing on company’s plea for police protection adjourned to August 31

August 29, 2022 07:10 pm | Updated August 30, 2022 12:12 pm IST - KOCHI

Fishermen lay siege to the port site on fishing vessels off the coast of Vizhinjam on Monday.

Fishermen lay siege to the port site on fishing vessels off the coast of Vizhinjam on Monday.

The High Court on Monday orally observed that detractors of the Vizhinjam International Seaport project could peacefully agitate, but the question was whether they could completely hold up its construction.

Justice Anu Sivaraman, while hearing the petition filed by the Managing Director and CEO and Corporate Affairs Head of Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Limited, seeking police protection, orally also observed that the agitations should not lead to a situation where the project works were held to ransom. The court said that the protests could not be quelled. If the protesters had complaints, they would be considered.

‘Major works stalled’

The court adjourned the hearing on the petition to August 31. When the petition came up for hearing, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that despite the court’s interim order directing the police to maintain law and order at port site, the protesters were allowed to enter and vandalise it. The petitioners said the protesters were trying to prevent/delay the commissioning of the project. Hundreds of people under the leadership of a priest had launched an agitation in front of the project site, blocking access to the port entry. It had resulted in stalling of major ongoing works.

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‘Heavy loss to company’

Though the petitioners had approached the police for protection, the police had not taken any action. The agitation had caused heavy loss to the company and contractor. The project could not be completed as per schedule because of the scarcity of boulders, natural disasters like cyclones, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Any further delay in the completion of the project would adversely affect the petitioners, the State government, and even the public, since a portion of the works, including the construction of a breakwater and the fishing harbour, was funded by public money, they added.

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