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Enayam port project has not taken off

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.


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