Shifting Enayam port raises credibility issues

The newly proposed site at Keelamanakudi, though claimed to be more feasible as there is no problem of displacement.

Thoothukudi: The decision to shift the proposed international container transshipment terminal from Enayam to Keelamanagudi in Kanyakumari district on the ground that the latter has better road and rail connectivity than Enayam, has placed a question mark on the 'sincerity' of Union Shipping ministry to create such a world class facility in the state.

"We doubt the credibility of the Ministry as immediately the project earlier envisaged at Colachel during the UPA government was shifted to Enayam, located 10-km away in 2014 for the same reason of Enayam having better rail and road connectivity," said a member of 'Tuticorin shipping agents' association'. He pointed that the Union Shipping ministry's decision to further shift the proposed project site from Enayam to a place near Keelamanakudi meant huge funds wasted on the preparation of the final techno-economic feasibility report and detailed project report for the development of the project at Enayam.

Moreover, M/s Rites Ltd., a government of India enterprise was entrusted to conduct a separate study on the road and rail connectivity to the earlier site at Enayam, said Russel Ratnam, Labour trustee of Thoothukudi V O C port that is the nodal agency for implementing the Enayam container transshipment terminal. Russel, who complained that the profit making Thoothukudi V O C port's fund (around Rs 50 crore), was earlier wasted for the Sethusamudram project, which has since been stalled by the court; now funds have been wastefully spent to produce a report for the uncertain international container transshipment terminal in Kanyakumari district, he rued.

It is to be noted that the same Spanish company, 'Typsa consultants' that did the DPR of the Enayam container transshipment terminal has been entrusted to do the DPR for the project in the newly proposed site at Keelamanakudi. The newly proposed site at Keelamanakudi, though claimed to be more feasible as there is no problem of displacement, around 225 fishermen families would be affected if the container transshipment container terminal project at Enayam is implemented.

The fishermen at Kovalam and Keelamanakudi coastal villages staged a strong protest against a team of officials led by Thoothukudi V O C Port Trust chairman, I Jeyakumar and V Vishnu, special officer for the Enayam International Transshipment Terminal taking out a preliminary survey a couple of days ago. The agitated fishermen gheraoed some of the officials and let them free only on intervention of the Kovalam parish priest, Prabhu Das, sources said.

The fishermen at Kovalam, however, fear that the construction of a container transshipment terminal near their village would be detrimental to their livelihood as they would not be allowed to fish in the waters near the proposed project site. The first phase of the construction of two container berths should have been started by this time, as according to the earlier DPR, the first phase was proposed to be completed in three years from 2017 at an estimated cost of Rs 6,575 crore. "Now the project for the third time is to be started from the beginning," informed sources rued.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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