Vizhinjam: Kerala govt not to accept Adani’s plea for extension

Vizhinjam Ker govt not to accept Adanis plea for extensionTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government today made it clear that it would not accept the arguments of Adani Ports Limited over the extension of contract period for the completion of Rs 7525 crore Vizhinjam International Transshipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport near here.

Minister for Ports, Ramachandran Kadannappally, made the statement in the assembly while replying to a notice for an adjournment motion moved by Congress-led UDF opposition alleging that both the government and the Adani group were “hand-in-glove” to delay the project.

Rejecting the charges, the Minister admitted that the government had received a letter from the private group seeking extension by six months for the completion of the project.

“The government will not accept the arguments of the company for extension. We will take steps to levy fine on Adani as per the contract if the project is delayed beyond the stipulated period,” he said.

The damage caused to the company’s two dredgers in the Ockhi cyclone, that hit the state coast on November last, and the shortage of granite for the work were the reasons cited by Adani for seeking extension of the period, he pointed out.

The agreement for the project was signed with M/S Adani Vizhinjam Port Limited during the previous UDF rule and the company started construction on December 5, 2015.

As per the contract agreement, the port is scheduled to be completed by December 4, 2019.

Kadannappally said the infrastructure work such as rail connectivity and road, to be carried out by the government, was progressing.

Nearly 92 per cent of the land required for the project had been acquired and handed over to the company, he said.

The problem with regard to the shortage of granite also would be sorted out soon, he stated.

“The government will take all steps to complete the project on time,” he added.

Seeking notice for the motion, M Vincent (Cong) alleged that both the government and the company were “hand-in glove” to evade the fine of Rs 57 crore to be paid by the company for the extension period.

Even 25 per cent of the work of the breakwater had not been completed so far, he alleged and said the construction of the berth can be taken up only after that.

He claimed that no rehabilitation schemes for the local people had been initiated and the plan for the development of the Port city envisaged as part of the project was not yet ready.

“Both the government and the Adani group have committed serious dereliction of duty in completing the project on time,” the MLA alleged.

On the matter, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said even before the company submitted the letter seeking extension, the Ports Minister had said in the floor of the house that the project could be delayed due to the damage caused to the equipment on work site and shortage of granite.

Kadannapally had virtually given a reason for the company to seek extension, he said and asked “Is it not an adjustment?”

Later, UDF members staged a walkout alleging that the government was not taking interest in completing the much-hyped project, started by the previous UDF government.

The Vizhinjam seaport project, designed primarily to cater to container trans-shipment besides multi-purpose and break bulk cargo, is being developed by Kerala government in collaboration with the Adani Group.-PTI