Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on Wednesday, said his government is giving top priority to rehabilitation of local people and protection to their livelihood while implementing development projects.
Making a statement in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday under Rule 300, Vijayan said the LDF government has ensured this protection while implementing all development projects and the approach is the same in the case of Vizhinjam port as well.
Stating that his government is committed to the development of physical and social infrastructure that lays the foundation for Kerala’s sustainable economic growth, the chief minister said the Vizhinjam International Port Project has the potential to pave the way for a major breakthrough in the economic and commercial aspects of Kerala. Geographical features and suitability for establishing trade links make this port project unique, he added.
He said around 80 per cent of the Vizhinjam Port is complete. At this stage, concerns were raised from some quarters and protests started from August 16 in the port area, he said.
Elaborating on the government’s effort to end the protests against the port, the chief minister said apart from the demand to stop the construction of the port, the government held open-minded discussions with the strike committee several times.
There was an unfortunate situation where the strike turned violent at some points the state police force deployed to maintain law and order met the situation with utmost restraint, he said.
Speaking on the protest committee’s decision to call off the protest against the port construction after holding discussion with him, the CM said, “The main demands raised by the strike committee were decided in yesterday’s high-level discussions and the strike committee has called of the protests against the port.
The chief minister further informed the Assembly that the government had taken steps to advance the construction of Vizhinjam port, which is an important project for the development of the country, giving priority to the interests of the fishermen who have risked their lives for the protection of the people in times of danger.
The Latin Catholic Church that spearheaded the anti-seaport agitation in Vizhinjam called off the 138-day-long stir against the port on Tuesday. The state government did not yield to their demands in any of the disputed topics. The decision to end the protest was announced by Eugine Pereira, Vicar General of the Latin Church, after a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The calling off of the protests has been viewed as a major political victory for the ruling LDF.
Ending the stalemate without compromising its stand has come as a major triumph for chief minister Vijayan. He has made his stance clear that the construction of Vizhinjam seaport will not be stopped on any count.
The 138-day agitation saw large-scale chaos and violence in the coastal area, including an attack on the police station.
The Fisherfolk at Vizhinjam alleged that the port construction is causing massive sea erosion, taking away their livelihood and dwellings. They want an impact study conducted and the project to remain suspended until the study report comes out.
Though the protests has been called off, protracted legal battles await the top priests of the Latin Catholic Church and the protesters arraigned as accused in the cases booked following violent protests at the Vizhinjam international port project site.
The police had registered cases against 3,000 identifiable persons, including priests, for vandalising the Vizhinjam police station, causing grievous hurt to police personnel, and damaging public property, including police vehicles and KSRTC buses.
Around 200 identifiable persons were booked on the charge of attempting to murder the police personnel and 119 for trespass.