Trouble mounts for Vijayan govt over deep-sea fishing deal

Trouble seems to be mounting for the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government after the Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala on Saturday came out with a picture of a meeting between the state’s Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty and a US-based firm on a proposed project of handing over the deep-sea fishing in the state to the latter.

However, Mercykutty denied the allegation of any such meeting and said that Chennithala has lost his bearings as he came out with this project on Friday.

“On Friday, both Mercykutty and the state’s Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan replied that they are not aware of any such company. Now I have released this picture of Mercykutty having discussions will be releasing two more documents which say that a four acre plot of land was handed over to this US firm. If needed I will release the meeting pictures among Mercykutty and those US officials,” the the Opposition leader said.

Chennithala said the precious fisheries wealth of Kerala has been handed over on a platter to an US firm — Emcc, which has operations in India.

“The present Left government has cheated the hapless fisher folk who eke out their living by engaging in fishing. If we hadn’t found out this, everything would have been given to this US firm. All I know that this would not have happened without the knowledge of Vijayan. The Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) has been a key player in this project and none should forget its Chairman Tom Jose, who was also the former Chief Secretary,” he said.

“Since I came up with this, what’s turned baffling is all the details of this project have disappeared from the website of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation and KSINC. Vijayan should break his silence as he knows everything. We demand that this project be cancelled and the land given to this company be taken back,” added Chennithala.

Chennithala has also released an MoU that was inked last year between the Kerala government and Emcc International India Pvt Ltd for the project,” Fisheries Research & Development for the up-gradation and Promotion of Deep Sea Fishing Industry” in Kerala with an outlay of Rs 5,000 crore.

According to this project what’s envisaged is 400 trawlers and five mother ships which will be fishing in the Kerala seas.

Meanwhile, various groups who are engaged in the fisheries sector are meeting at a few places on Saturday to decide the future course of action, as they feel their livelihood will be affected.