Will not stop port construction in Vizhinjam; says CM in assembly

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that there is no way to halt port construction at Vizhinjam. Replying to an adjournment motion in the state assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister stated that the government assured the high court that construction would go as planned without delay. He added that the demand to halt port construction cannot be entertained as 80 per cent of the work is completed.

Pinarayi Vijayan also slammed the Opposition claiming that the government has failed to hold the discussion to settle the protest.

"The cabinet sub-committee held a meeting on August 19 with concerned parties soon after the initial protest in Vizhinjam. Following this, official meetings were held with the Samara Samithi on August 24, September 5, and 23, in addition, to chief-secretary level talks," he said.

He added that the government has taken a favourable stand in holding meetings to address their issues so far.

"I chaired a meeting with leaders of Samara Samithi after the government agreed to five of their seven demands. I informed them that port construction cannot be halted. The government also agreed to conduct a study to identify Coastal erosion in the area. However, the protests intensified despite the government agreeing to majority of their demands," he said. He alleged the involvement of external forces behind the protest.

He stated that government is willing to address others issues related to the port construction. "The official stand of Latin Church is not the same as that of Samara Samithi. The diocese, in the past, has taken a favourable stand on matters pertaining to the state's development and other social issues. They hold a good rapport with the government. However, some leading figures among the protestors are influenced by external forces," he added.

Pinarayi Vijayan stated that protestors were booked for disrupting port construction despite the Kerala High Court order mandating construction works in Vizhinjam.

It was understandable the stand adopted by the Vizhinjam protest committee was not the general stand of the Latin Church on the matter, he added.

Considering the problems and crises being faced by the fisherfolk, the government and police had shown utmost restraint when violence erupted in Vizhinjam last month, he said.

The CM criticised the attack on the police station by the agitators and said a total of 54 police personnel suffered injuries and vehicles and documents were destroyed widely.

Justifying the cases slapped against protesters and priests, he said it was the responsibility of the police to register cases as the protest committee had violated the High Court order not to obstruct the construction of the port.

It was part of the contempt of court case that some priests also had been booked by the police, he explained.

He also urged the anti-seaport agitators to refrain from provocations that may trigger unrest and hatred in society.

(with inputs from PTI)

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