Govt. scraps KSIDC-EMCC MoU

The State government has walked back from the ₹5,000 crore “exploratory agreement” Kerala State Industrial Corporation (KSIDC) had struck with the U.S.-based firm, EMCC International, to build a network of modern fishing harbours linked to an industrial scale marine product processing centre in Alappuzha.

On February 22, the government had invalidated the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation’s (KSINC) ₹2,900 crore prefatory agreement with the same company to build and operate a deep-sea trawling fleet to harvest the marine wealth off the coast of Kerala.

The controversial accords were part of a concept paper signed by the KSINC and KSIDC with EMCC International at the State government-sponsored global investors meet, ASCEND, in Kochi last year.

However, the KSINC pact with EMCC had invited sharp rebuke from the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council (KCBC) and the Latin Archdiocese Thiruvananthapuram. The Church sensed a plot to deprive traditional fishers of their livelihood and rights. The government found itself in troubled waters and scrambled to reassure the fishing community.

Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan told journalists that the agreements were non-binding. They had no legal or contractual value. The Opposition had used it cynically to stir disaffection with the government.

The government had declared the memoranda of understanding scrapped to blunt the UDF’s criticism. It was merely a political move to deprive the Opposition of ammunition. “The KSIDC has not transferred any public land to the firm, as alleged by the UDF,” he said.

An official said the government also found that the KSINC had publicised the non-binding agreement as an achievement.

The agreement contravened the LDF policy to allow only traditional fishers to own or operate deep-sea trawlers. Only they would receive new boat permits. The government felt the KSINC had “missed” the critical proviso when inking the agreement.

The “slip” had opened the door for the Opposition to mislead the seafaring fishing community and put the administration on the defence. Moreover, EMCC had used the promotional material published by KSINC to “prospect” for investors abroad. The government has ordered an inquiry into the KSINC’s actions.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 1:40:41 PM |

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