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Will Kanyakumari mega port project sink with defeat of BJP’s Pon Radhakrishnan?

The defeat of Pon Radhakrishnan of the BJP in the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency will likely dash the prospects of a planned mega port project in the district that was pursued by the junior Shipping Minister in the Narenda Modi Cabinet.

Radhakrishnan, who was also a junior Finance Minister, was the BJP’s only lawmaker from Tamil Nadu in the previous Lok Sabha. In the just concluded elections, Radhakrishnan was defeated by the Congress’ H Vasanthakumar.

Project approval
In July 2016, the Union Cabinet accorded in-principle approval for building a new major port at Enayam (west of Colachel and located between Helen Nagar and Melakurumbanai village) in Kanyakumari in three phases with an investment of ₹27,570 crore to handle 127 million tonnes (mt) of cargo a year.

But, following resistance from local fishermen groups, a new site closer to Kanyakumari, nestled between Kovalam and Keelamanakudi villages, was identified. The government has mandated a consortium of Spanish consulting firm TYPSA and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) on the new site, which was submitted.

The new port was planned as a joint venture between the Central government-owned VO Chidambaram Port Trust, Chennai Port Trust and Kamarajar Port Ltd.

New site
“Radhakrishnan’s defeat from Kanyakumari will rob the planned port project of its biggest supporter,” a port consultant said, asking not to be named. The new site does not have any fishermen villages; both Kovalam and Keelamanakudi villages are about half a km away from both sides. “There will be zero displacement; nobody will be disturbed. Besides, no land acquisition is envisaged for port construction,” said a Shipping Ministry official.

However, the consultant said the new site could suffer from viability issues because a similar facility is being constructed just a few km away at Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. It is also a technically challenging project, he said.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

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