TN within its rights to shelve Adani Kattupalli port plan: former bureaucrats write to CM

The former civil servants, in their letter, said the Adani proposal would milk the State exchequer, and TN would be saddled with a ‘white elephant’ if it went ahead with the port expansion project

September 17, 2021 03:20 pm | Updated 04:01 pm IST - CHENNAI

Issued permissions: The clearances for the expansion of Kattupalli port were given by the Ministry in July 2009.

Issued permissions: The clearances for the expansion of Kattupalli port were given by the Ministry in July 2009.

Ten retired civil servants have written to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan to shelve the Adani-Kattupalli port expansion project contending that it would entail considerable financial risks.

The company had proposed to invest ₹4 000 crore to develop Kattupalli into a 30-berth port. The former civil servants said Adani's proposal is an audacious attempt to milk the State exchequer, and a letter from the company recently brought to light through RTI Act activists hinted at significant risks that the government of Tamil Nadu should be aware of.

The bureaucrats said the company had categorically stated in the letter that it would not be possible to get the necessary funds from investors or banks with the existing license period of 30 years and that it was crucial that the license period be increased to 99 years or run concurrently with the lease for TIDCO land.

“This does not bode well for the state. In 2017, the Comptroller and Auditor General highlighted the undue gain to Adani and loss to exchequer to come down strongly against Kerala government’s decision to extend the concession period for the Public-Private Partnership project from the standard 30 years to 40 years. If Adani’s business plan states that the project is viable only with a 99 year concession period, there is a real risk that the Government of Tamil Nadu will be saddled with a white elephant if it were to go ahead with the same project with the standard 30 year concession,” the former officials said in the letter, which was circulated to the media.

Extending the concession period was not an option, as this would entail a massive revenue loss to the State, they said. They further pointed out that the port proposal had triggered intense opposition from local residents who are fearful of sea erosion, loss of livelihoods and pollution, and from Chennai residents, as the proposed developments could aggravate flooding risks and salinity intrusion into aquifers that supply the city.

The letter was signed by S.P. Ambrose, M. G. Devasahayam, K P Fabian, E.A.S Sarma, Madhu Bhaduri, Kamal Jaswal, Meena Gupta, Gopalan Balagopal, Sundar Burra and Joy Oommen.

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