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Vizhinjam Port: No ship docking likely as 'Onam Gift'

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Vizhinjam Port: No ship docking likely as Onam Gift
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Thiruvananthapuram: The docking of a ship, which was promised as an Onam gift to Kerala by Ports Minister Ahmed Devarkovil and the state government, is unlikely to happen at Vizhinjam port as hoped. Now when only six days are left before Thiruvonam Day, there is no way one can wish the entire process to be completed before the day.

The ship was announced as an Onam gift at the end of the 140-day fishermen's strike against the construction of the port last year. In actuality, this is a ship that is being used to deliver a crane to the port. It had been decided that a team of Vizhinjam Sea Port Limited (VISL) would visit Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Company in China to inspect this crane in May. However, this did not happen. Later, it was explained that the visit was postponed due to the VISL CEO's ill health.

The money for the crane is to be paid by the Adani Group. According to them, an excess of Rs 1,000 crore has been spent on the project. As a result, Adani Group has demanded immediate payment of Rs 59 crore due in the first instalment and Rs 400 crore in the second instalment used for the construction of the breakwater. A factor that comes into the situation is that as per the special agreement in the coalition of the second Pinarayi Cabinet, Minister Ahmed Devarkovil's term ends in November and another coalition partner's nominee will take over. Therefore, bringing the ship before that is a matter of his personal image too. The ship is now expected to leave China on September 10th and arrive in Vizhinjam on September 24th.

In accordance with the agreement of the Port, the state government is required to spend Rs 1463 crore on the construction of the breakwater. The first instalment of the breakwater and the initial cost of the railway line connecting the port were raised by taking a loan from Kerala Finance Corporation (KFC). Out of the first instalment of Rs 384 crore, only Rs 325 crore could be disbursed.

In April 2023, the Cabinet had permitted VISL to borrow Rs 3,600 crore from HUDCO for repayment of the KFC loan, the second instalment of the breakwater, and the construction of the railway line etc. In order to accomplish this, HUDCO requested the inclusion of a government guarantee in the budget. The government is concerned that if the repayment amount is included in the budget, it will be considered to be a part of the state's public debt. As the decision on HUDCO was delayed, VISL approached NABARD for a loan. However, they are also reiterating HUDCO's suggestion.

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TAGS:Vizhinjam Port
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