CAG proclaims the Vizhinjam project as a one-sided agreement
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The comptroller and auditor general has termed the Vizhinjam project, the Multi-purpose Deepwater Seaport project, as one-sided and the major beneficiary will be Adani.
While the state government is investing Rs 5071 crore, Adani invests only Rs 2,454 crore for the project. Even though the Adani Group which is having 33 % shares of the project expenditure will reap a profit of Rs 132705 crore. But the government will only get Rs 13948 in the agreement period of 40 years, the report pointed out.
Vizhinjam port, an international trans-shipment hub, and allied facilities which were proposed to contribute to the large-scale growth of industry and economy in Kerala, particularly the southern Kerala, will be beneficial for Adani group only, the CAG report pointed out.
The report has also mentioned the wasteful expenditures and irregularities in the technical and financial estimates were proposed by an external consultancy. Congress-led United Democratic Front government failed to give satisfactory explanations to the queries raised by CAG.
The report prepared by the principal account general (Audit) Amar Patel again pointed out that the government had failed to draw up a Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy which clearly defines the due process and objectives. And the project didn’t follow the guidelines of either Central Planning Commission or Vigilance Commission and the total expenditure is three times more than the expenditure incurred for similar projects.
The port project was first proposed in 1991 when the late Congress leader K Karunakaran was the Chief Minister but did not take place due to various reasons. It got a push after the UDF Government came to power in 2011. In August 2015, Ahmedabad-based Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) had entered into an agreement with Kerala government for building Rs 7,525 crore Vizhinjam seaport project. Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) – a company fully owned by Government of Kerala is the implementing agency for the project.
Meanwhile, the ruling Left Democratic Front-LDF, which has raised allegations of corruption in the project and opposed its implementation, is planning to proceed with the project.
Simultaneously environmental experts, fisheries experts, and marine scientists are demanding core changes to the project, warning that the construction would affect the echo system and the livelihood of the fishing community. Among all these debates, Green tribunal had given nod for the project in the last September.
The government was committed to going with this project, said Kadannappally Ramachandran, Ports Minister of Kerala, while reacting to the CAG report.
According to the sources, the report is likely to be finalised and tabled in the state assembly in December.