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Kerala Government reaches out to the Church on Vizhinjam port project issues

Kerala government has deputed its top official who heads their Delhi liaison office Prof K V Thomas to hold talks with the church leaders in an effort to break the deadlock over the rehabilitation programs for the fishermen affected by the Vizhinjam port project.

The representatives of the church have suspended the four month long agitation against resumption of work in the Vizhinjam port project because of the pressure exerted by, the Kerala high court, the state government, the opposition parties and the media but they are unhappy over the tardy progress of rehabilitation projects for the affected fishermen

It is in this context the state government had chosen Mr Thomas who had represented the church dominated Ernakulam Lok sabha constitutency for four terms for the task; Prof Thomas who was in congress had left the party a few months ago and joined the CPIM. He has since been made the Special Representative of the Kerala government in New Delhi.

The state’s newly appointed representative in Delhi, K V Thomas, will hold talks with Church heads in a bid to sort out contentious issues with them and bring them closer to the government. The former Congress leader and CPM’s newfound ally arrived in Thiruvananthapuram on February 17th night and will hold detailed discussions with the Bishops for the next two days.

Thomas is scheduled to meet Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archbishop Thomas J Netto who had led the agitation against the Vizhinjam port project. The Latin archdiocese had led a four-month-long protest against the Vizhinjam seaport project. The Church heads who were forced to come to the negotiating table after the protests turned violent, said there were some grey areas that have to be addressed by the government.

The Church is not happy with the tardy process of rehabilitation. They also want a share in the jobs created in Vizhinjam port. The CPM and the government want Thomas to take the clergy into confidence on contentious issues. Thomas may also visit the flats constructed under the Punargeham project for fishermen who lost land and houses to sea erosion. He is also likely to visit the Vizhinjam port site. A final decision in this regard will be taken after the meeting with the archbishop.

Thomas is also scheduled to meet Cardinal Baselios Clemis of Syro Malankara Catholic Church, and Syro Malabar Catholic Church major archbishop George Alencherry in Ernakulam. 

In an effort to play down the nature of talks he will have with the church leaders Mr Thomas told newspersons that it was a courtesy call on them since he took over office as special representative of the government.

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