It is almost a year since the Union Cabinet gave in principle approval for
the green field port Eanayam(Colachel) port project. Every press release of the
shipping ministry boosts of government's intention to set up a transshipment
terminal at the southern tip of the country.
The shipping ministry has made a strong case for the terminal stating that
a large percent age of our cargo gets transhipped at Colombo and Singapore ports
and therefore a port in the international trade route must be built. Colachel
fits bill since it is bang on the East West trade route.
Nothing has moved in the project front except the Tuticorin port was
assigned the task of preparing the Detailed Project report. The central
government has not allotted any fund for the project and hence the Tuticorin
port has shelled out Rs five crores for the preparatory works.
As for the project report the Tuticorin port authorities had two rounds of
meeting with the violent fishermen of the district who oppose even any
discussion on the project. Minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishan who
represents the area in the Lok sabha initially took interest in the project but
remains silent on the issue for last several months. In short nothing has moved
on the DPR
Two months ago a high level meeting was held in the state secretariat where
shipping secretary Rajive Kumar was present. Sources who attended the meeting
said a state government official asked the Shipping Secretary whether Centre
would consider giving any package to the agitating fishermen. The Shipping
Secretary virtually evaded a direct answer saying we may consider it.
Significantly the Centre allotted several hundred rupees for development
projects in and around Kudungulam when they were keen on putting up a nuclear
power plant three years ago.
The state government too is not keen on taking initiatives to tackle the
issue as a law and order problem as they did in Kudangulam in tackling the
agitating fishermen. Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari had gone on record
recently saying he would hold discussions with the agitating fishermen but did
not specify any time frame.
Meanwhile the Centre which wanted to save precious foreign exchange by
ending diversion of Indian cargo to Colombo by setting up a transhipment
terminal in Colachel has gone ahead recently and signed an agreement with Sri
Lanka on funding the expansion of container terminal at Colombo port. This
clearly revealed the government's intention and the Colachel port project will
remain on paper for quite some time said industry sources.