Vizhinjam port under construction. Photo: Biju Varghese/Mathrubhumi Archives
Thiruvananthapuram: The ruling LDF and the opposition Congress in Kerala were in agreement on Sunday that there was no need for central forces to maintain law and order at Vizhinjam here which saw incidents of violence recently in connection with the seaport being built there.
Kerala Ports Minister Ahammed Devarkovil was of the view that Adani Group, which is carrying out the port construction, can seek protection from central forces at the work site, but outside it the police was capable of maintaining law and order.
"We do not need help from central forces to maintain law and order. Kerala Police is capable of handling that. It is Adani which has sought aid from central forces and not us. We are providing them protection," the minister said to reporters.
On Friday, the state government had told the Kerala High Court that it does not have any objection to deployment of central security forces at the under-construction Vizhinjam seaport in Thiruvananthapuram which was hit by violent protests recently halting the work there.
The high court asked the state and central governments to discuss the possibility of deploying the central forces there on a plea by Adani Group seeking the same.
Congress MP and former president of Kerala PCC K Muraleedharan was also opposed to the stationing of central forces.
"The protest cannot be stopped through intimidation by bringing central forces. If the state government objects, central forces will not come," he said.
"However, if the state government wants central forces here under the garb of helping Adani, then Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would be responsible for any action taken by them," Muraleedharan, son of Congress leader and former chief minister K Karunakaran, said.
He said discussions are the only way to resolve the issue.
"We started the project and therefore, we want it to be implemented, but not at the cost of the tears of the fisherfolk. Their concerns have to be resolved," he said.
Devarkovil said that discussions were going on, even unofficially, with the protesting fisherfolk. With the assembly session set to convene from December 5, the Chief Minister and other ministers would be in the state capital and therefore, more talks were possible, the minister said.
He also said no one with common sense would seek halting a project which costs thousands of crores of public money and also that there was no need for a fresh study by putting the work on hold.
The minister added that a high-level committee was already conducting a study and it submits reports every six months.
"There is nothing to indicate in any of the studies that there could be adverse impacts due to the project," he said.
Around 40 police personnel were injured in the Vizhinjam police station attack in which 3,000 protesters took part on November 27 after which Adani moved the high court seeking protection from central forces.
The state government had told the court that cases were registered against numerous persons, including a bishop, with regard to the violence and five persons were arrested.
It had also said that steps would be taken to recover the loss suffered due to the violent protests over the Vizhinjam seaport construction from the protesters.
A large number of people have been staging protests outside the main entrance of the multi-purpose seaport at nearby Mulloor for a few months.
They have been pressing for their seven-point charter of demands that include stopping the construction work and to conduct a coastal impact study in connection with the multi-crore project.
The protesters have been alleging that the unscientific construction of groynes, the artificial sea walls as part of the upcoming port at Vizhinjam, was one of the reasons for increasing coastal erosion in the area.