Judicial probe gives Chandy clean chit in Vizhinjam port agreement

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 31 (IANS) The one-man Kerala cabinet-appointed Justice (rtd) C.N. Ramachandran Commission, which was asked to look into the Vizhinjam port agreement inked by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy-led government, on Monday gave a clean chit and said no corruption was involved in it.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appointed the commission in May 2017, a few days after the CAG report on it was placed in the Kerala Assembly that cited lacunae in the agreement and stated the state was in a disadvantageous position.

Ramachandran submitted the report to Vijayan here and later told the media that there was nothing that could point to corruption in the signing of agreement.

“The CAG report is a mixture of rights and wrongs…it (agreement) was not a corrupt one. Both state government and Adani Ports can go ahead with the work. We gave adequate time to all to come up with evidences, but none came. These are all very big infrastructure projects and the profitability aspect will take a while to mature,” said Ramachandran.

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The Chandy government in 2015 inked the agreement for the Rs 7,525-crore Vizhinjam project with Adani Ports, which was the lone bidder and sought Rs 1,635 crore as grant for it.

Adani had on December 5, 2015, when the work commenced, committed that the first phase of the port would be operational in 1,000 days from the date of commencement of work and the first ship will berth on September 1, 2018.

But the deadline has been missed and the reasons attributed for the delay is that the builders found it difficult to get adequate and regular supply of limestones required for building the breakwaters. Besides, the work was badly hit as the Ockhi waves last year took away 150 metres of the constructed breakwater.

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According to the agreement, Adani would operate the port for 40 years, extendable by another 20 years, while the state government would get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years.

Once completed, the port would be able to handle movement of ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-feet equivalent units) to dock and is located close to the busy international shipping route. It is envisaged to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

–IANS

sg/nir

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