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Vizhinjam port proj may move to Tamil Nadu if Kerala delays

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari today said that Rs 7,000-crore international port project at Vizhinjam in Kerala might be moved to neighbouring Tamil Nadu if the political differences in the state over awarding the project to the Adani group is not resolved fast.

"If there are differences in Kerala on this port, I am giving you a clear direction that we will make the international port at Colachel near Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu," he told reporters at a press conference to mark one year of the Narendra Modi government.

Gadkari's warning came ahead of the all-party meet called by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Thiruvananthapuram today to take a final call on whether to accept or reject the only bid the port project has received from the Adani group.

Already the port management has approved the Adani bid but a final call has been left to the state government, which in turn decided to take a consensus view.

Gadkari said having a port in the vicinity is very important as we are losing traffic to the Colombo port and added his ministry has already carried out feasibility studies for the alternative site in Tamil Nadu.

"If the people of Kerala don't want development, we have nothing to say. I'm making it clear -- because of the politics, I'm going to shift the international major project to Colachel in (neighbouring) Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Don't blame me for that," he said.

The Vizhinjam port close to the Keraka capital has been a very contentious one and the Congress-led UDF Government has been struggling to get it started for a long time.

The Gujarat-headquartered Adani Ports is the sole bidder for the project.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri had yesterday said the project should be developed by the public sector, in an indirect opposition to Adani's involvement, apparently due to the group's alleged proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Distancing himself and the government from the group, Gadkari today said, "We do not support the Adanis, nor do we have any relationship with the Adani group regarding this port project."

He further calimed that Adani Port's only pre-condition for taking up the project is that it does not want any political opposition and added that the Centre has already cleared the viability gap funding for the port.

Adani has interests in the ports business for a long time now, starting with the Mundra Port in Gujarat, which has now become the largest in the country by volumes handled.

On the vote counting day on May 16 last year, Adani had announced a Rs 5,500-crore acquisition of the Dhamra Port from the Tatas and L&T, who could not make it viable project. This was followed with the of the Modi government giving the environmental nod for its special economic zone at Mundra within a month of assuming office.

The Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone scrip shed over 3.80 per cent to close at Rs 297.70 a piece on the BSE, as against the 1.3 per cent correction in the Sensex.

First Published: Wed, June 03 2015. 17:28 IST