- The Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is an ambitious project taken up by Government of Kerala.
- It is touted as a “dream project and a game changer for the fortunes of Kerala”.
- It was announced as a fast-track project in 2009 though actual work began much later.
- The key advantage of the site is the availability of naturally deep draught and proximity to the East-West shipping channel.
- The port is being currently developed in landlord model with a Public Private Partnership component on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (“DBFOT”) basis.
- According to fisherfolk, the port work has aggravated the coastal erosion along the coast of Thiruvananthapuram.
- A scientific study to assess the impact of the port work on the shoreline has to be conducted urgently by stopping the construction.
The community has also put forward six other demands:
- rehabilitation of families who lost their homes to sea erosion,
- effective steps to mitigate coastal erosion,
- financial assistance to fisherfolk on days weather warnings are issued,
- compensation to families of those who lose their lives in fishing accidents,
- subsidised kerosene, and
- a mechanism to dredge the Muthalappozhi fishing harbour in Anchuthengu in Thiruvananthapuram district.
The government has conceded all demands except providing a kerosene subsidy, and halting the construction of the port.
The Significance of the project:
- The port is located on the southern tip of the Indian Peninsula, just 10 nautical miles from the major international sea route and east-west shipping axis.
- It has a natural water depth of more than 20 m within a nautical mile from the coast.
- The Vizhinjam port is likely to play a pivotal role in the maritime development of the country and Kerala.
- The commissioning of the port is expected to leverage the growth of 17 minor ports in the State along with creating thousands of employment opportunities.