Why I oppose Vizhinjam Port —- Prof.Gopalakrishna Panicker


wadge bank

Wadgdge bank having of area 3000 sq: mile  .Total area is grater than the combined area of Trivananthapuram, Kollam ,Patthanamthitta and half of Kottayam district.1.

  1. Listen to Prof.Yogendra – A discourse of disinterested pursuit pure of Knowledge and other related links  .
  2.    Article about vizhinjam in malayalam വിഴിഞ്ഞം  പദ്ധ്വതി   വികസനം അല്ല വിനാശമാണ് !

Vizhinjam port  a disaster to the environment !  Financial burden to the exchequer!

      The official Press release declare it as the ‘Dream Project ‘:

“After the agreement with Adani was signed for, India’s deepest Port, India’s largest container trans- shipment Hub, the biggest infrastructure project in Kerala (pegged at 2 billion dollars) and work begins in 10 months time. All weather, deep-water, Natural port. The Vizhinjam port, situated about 16 km south of Thiruvananthapuram and at 10 nautical miles from international sea routes connecting Europe, Persian Gulf and Far East, when developed would attract a fair share of the container transshipment traffic meant for India, currently handled by international ports at Colombo, Malaysia, Al-Salalah (Oman) and Singapore.

                The official lay out of the project (see the picture or link given  ) , reveal the fact that Vizhinjam is not a natural port. Sixty six hectares of land to be reclaimed from the sea. The material required for phase I reclamation is proposed to be obtained from dredging activity in the sea. This phase requires more than 7 million metric tonnes of stone!.(much more during subsequent phases! ) Sand and soil for construction of a break water stretching almost 3.18 km into the sea, with 1 km width at the top and unspecified width at  bottom!(it cannot be less than top width any way!)  with an average depth of 20m. This material is sought to be sourced from blasting quarries in Thiruvananthapuram and from neighbouring district of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, falling in Western Ghats region. How can they respect the Gadgil Committee report, even in its most compromised format? . Then what about the future of Monsoon in Kerala?. I am agreeing with one point in the official report, the port would surely be an ‘All weather’ one,  provided the monsoon is made totally absent!.

                 Now read the series of reports submitted by various agencies 1) International financial commission having the recognition of IMF, way back in 2010, submitted their report (Vizhinjam Port strategic option -2010) with an unambiguous conclusion “A port based, primarily on transshipment traffic does not have significant linkage and synergies with local economy” (page 55 ) .2) Just like changing judges to get a favourable judgement another agency was entrusted with the same job!.  In 2013 AECOM , submitted a similar report but requested a huge financial support from the government for its survival!. 3) A third report by Earnest and Young, claimed to have submitted to the government during April 2015, requested a Viability Gap Fund [V.G.F] of 60% “The project is not financially viable on a stand alone basis and needs additional revenues from Port estate, offering a discount of 35% on the Tariff  and VGF of 60%”. For such projects V.G.F cannot be more than 40% as per existing rules and practices! This is another caveat and ‘a real estate deal with Adani. Precious land of 105 Acres,near the capital city of Kerala (30% of the total land acquired ), goes as a gift to Adani, the feasibility report with 126 pages dedicated 12 pages for the detailed description of the real estate project with residential flats (4543 lakhs square feet), retail shopping complexes ,mid market hotels and huge luxury hotels. Total estimated amount is Rs 3360 Cr. Total estimated project cost of  Vizhinjam is 4,089crore. When the first phase is completed in  2019 s projected P&L account shows a loss  422 cr  for that year,  then by 2026 yearly  loss is projected as 8cr  but by  2027 it shall  show profit of 140cr and by 2053 the yearly profit is projected as  581cr please read the Projected P&L,Cash flaw,Balance sheet etc available->http://www.vizhinjamport.in/…/Final-Master-Plan-Report_Nov3. (sorry! they seems to have deleted the link! another proof of dishonesty!, as on 10/12/2015).  Will they give me just few Hundred thousands of Indian Rupee,   I shall pay back the educational loan of few poor unemployed youth  in my locality  and  give  back one million Rs in 2053!.  Report says:-

The project is not financially viable (EIRR is 11.54%) on a standalone basis, i.e. without VGF. However, with substantial funds in the form of VGF up to 60% and offering a discount of 35%on port tariff; the Equity IRR is 15.0%, and accordingly, the project is viable;As per the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme for financial support to PPPs in Infrastructure, the maximum permissible (VGF) is 40% of the Total Project Cost. In our case additional revenues from Port estate Development, offering a discount of 35% on the Tariff,the project is still viable with an Equity IRR of 15.0% with a VGF of 40.7%”

                 On the West Coast of India, there are no all-weather ports that stand right on the coast, blatantly exposed to the South-west Monsoon’s salt-laden winds. Besides the winds and waves lashing this coast head-on for a significant part of the year, which in itself is a unique feature,  has a long chain of lofty mountains, the Western Ghats or as we call it ‘the Sahyadiri Ranges’, along its entire length of about 2000 km. The seaward face of the Ghats gets, every year, about 3000 mm of rainfall, most of which falls during the four-month long South-west Monsoon season. The hydro-geologists have estimated that annually 250 cubic kilometres or 250 trillion litres of sediment-laden run off, flows down the mountain slopes and then across the coast!. It was found that during Monsoon season there is strong coastal current towards south and rest of the year there is weak reverse flow ,If there is no man-made obstruction, it almost getting compensated! is known as sediment transport. When few breakwaters are constructed like that in Vishinjam fishing harbour with  400m long and few other small ones there were  large scale erosion on northern side of the breakwater and compensating accretion /siltation on the southern side!. Now the proposed Vizhinjam port require a breakwater of length 3.18 km! .It is the root cause of the environmental hazard to natural, beautiful coast of Karala ,habitat of varieties of flora and fauna, sole means of livelihood, of poor fisher folks and thousands making both ends meet with related jobs  . While the breakwater would stop the waves, it cannot stop the salt-laden monsoon winds, which would blow across, not only to disrupt the port operations, but also to cause rampant corrosion of the port’s steel infrastructure. Accretion /siltation on southern side of the port requires ,regular drudging doing further damage and huge recurring expenditure from the part of the government . Area most affected will be Poothura ,Vizhinjam, Nellikunnu, Mulloor, Pulinkudy, Azhimala, Chowra and Adimalathura. Here, I must assert, not withstanding the contrary views held by the ‘coastal experts and orchestrated opinion makers. Every case of beach erosion, currently faced worldwide, without exception, is human engineered, and when the erosion sets in, it is practically irreversible. Seawalls are no solution, except making the coast ugly and unsuitable for any other purpose. The erosion will simply go on and on, till all the sediments on the beach and the land beyond are lost to the sea and bare rocks getting exposed to the waves. It must therefore be a national responsibility to protect every beach, because they are important for variety of reasons, besides being beautiful. The traditional fisher folk, in Kerala and elsewhere, who form the bulk of the coastal populace, simply cannot do without them. It is therefore imperative to notify every beach, small and big, as CRZ-I. Beaches are, in fact, far more vulnerable to human-engineered destruction than all other features listed under CRZ-I. It is also imperative to immediately declare the following mandatory preconditions, besides others, for according environmental clearances to offshore, coastal and inshore projects, howsoever important or strategic: one, no loss of beach, either directly by location or indirectly through induced erosion, and, two, the design must be assuredly siltation-free. Siltation, with the inescapable maintenance dredging that invariably follows, is one of the major causes of ecological damage in the  littoral waters, where the dredged spoils are dumped, year after year. There is hardly a doubt that the proposed port at Vizhinjam will not work, no matter what engineering expertise and technological innovations are brought in, because, one, the site lacks shelter from the strong monsoon winds that blow unceasingly for a third of each year, and two, the design is unmistakably siltation prone.    If this ruthless attempts by crony capitalists and greedy politicians are not prevented ,Kerala’s beautiful beaches would however be lost forever. An ugly structure that can never be dismantled will thereafter remain as a mute testimony to our lack of environmental foresight. Moreover, no one will be held accountable for all that. Instead, the experts will come up with grandiose proposals to somehow keep the port going, much like keeping a comatose white elephant alive, as is being attempted at the Vallarpadom International Port(Kochi ). if Vizhinjam was suitable for an all-weather, natural port, there would have been one there long ago.

Again that the Vizhinjam International Container Transshipment terminal project would destroy the ‘Wadge Bank’,  a 3000 sq: km area which form the breading ground for thousands of varieties fish and other species . Fisheries expert and marine scientist Dr. Sanjeeva Ghosh and other experts like Dr. V.J Vijayan have warned about the impact of the port on the biodiversity of the ‘Wadge Bank’, 45 to 60 km off the Vizhinjam coast. “The largest coral reef in the Indian ocean, the Wadge Bank is the breeding ground for more than 200 varieties of fish. It is also home to more than 60 species of ornamental fishes and oceanic animals. The construction works for the port will destroy the habitat.”We know why famous ‘chakara’ the fishing festive of coastal Kerala is conspicuously absent and in future; I will not be surprised if the common available ‘Matthi’ (Eng->Sardines) and ‘Ayila'(Mackerel) become extinct in Kerala coast as the breeding ground for the same is the sediment rich  ‘Wadge bank’ is disturbed considerably.  Let me again quote a shallow baseless argument put in the public domain   by the greedy proponents of the port, to show the propensity of advertising baseless arguments (just google for ‘wadge bank’ or anything related to Vizhinjam you shall end up in such  posts! and blogs )

“ …. is baseless, according to experts who took part in a symposium on the multi-crore port project here on Wednesday. The east-west international shipping lane is passing through the ‘Wadge Bank,’ and on a daily basis, approximately 100 vessels are already passing over it without affecting it in any way….;

Deepak Benny, port planning consultant, Singapore, said at a symposium organised by the Trivandrum Development Front!. Yes ! International shipping lane has not yet spoiled the ‘Wadge Bank’ completely -‘the Vizhinjam mega -sea port’ will do the job, as it would block the supply chain of oxygen, nutrient rich sediment-laden run off, which flows down to south along the coast of Kerela again modulating  the temperature of the sea bed of the wadge bank.   3.2 KM break water  deflects the flow to western sea,  makes turbulent whirlpools  and erosion to the northern side of it. (see the picture of Kerala coast and ‘wadge bank’). Knowledge of hydrodynamics is not required simple common sense is sufficient to understand the shallowness and dishonesty of the argument quoted above. So is not Adani taking Kerala Government for a ride? Or is there a big underhand deal between Adani and Oommen Chandy with blessings of Modi!. Remember respected O.Rajagopal (veteran BJP leader) recently said, “Kerala ministers are asking commission to Adani for Vizhinjam!

                     The Kerela Government has also apparently taken over the financial burden of building breakwaters (by breaking down some hills in the Western Ghats), to make things easier for Mr. Adani. This will cost the Government Rs.1463 cr. This is not included in the total project cost of Rs.4089cr[TPC] , out of which the Government will provide a grant of 40 percent.

                    The Government’s law advisers claim that Adani’s bid cannot be called a ‘single bid’ as two other companies had also purchased the bid documents, though they never proceeded with it. One of those two companies happen to be Essar Port, which is about to be taken over by Adani Ports. The other one is Srei group, which doesn’t have much experience in building ports. These two were thus proxies  for Adani, who just purchased the documents, to make it look, as if it’s not a ‘single bid’.

                      Commander John Jacob Puthur, Indian Navy (Retired), FIS, FCA, FGS, Hydrographer , is actively against the Vizhinjam project and I have quoted his wise words almost verbatim in my write up above. Mr E.V Sreedharan,  the reputed architect of Kochi Metro is also now voiced against ‘Vizhinjam’. During the formative meetings of ‘Theera Desha -Paschima Ghatta Samrakshanana Samithi ‘ (movement for protecting coast and western ghats) I have described this issue as another manifestation of ‘Farmer’s problem’ taken up by ‘ Swaraj Abhiyan‘ and Prof.Yogendra Yadave -It is the conspiracy to grab the land under the pretext of mega projects which gives them an opportunity to do large scale loot and to acquire large areas of land for doing real estate business. Fisher folks of Poothura and Vizhinjam with their conventional wisdom has realized the gravity of the problem, needs support from the right thinking citizens of our country. Please recollect, it was the fisher folks of Vizhnjam whole heartedly supported the great historical agriculture strike by Mahatma Ayyankali,  the great leader ‘Kerala Renaissance’ during the first decade of the last century, demanding right to education to the marginalised agricultural labours  of Kerala. Fishing folks at Vishinjam offered them jobs related to fishing and good many of them continued the same. Now fishing community along the entire coast is in a struggle for survival. It is an extension of the ongoing farmers struggle elsewhere in India -Adivasis and other marginalised sections of the people ,together with plantation labourer in Kerala is  facing the same problem there is large scale conspiracy to grab land from  them. The unholy nexus between political parties and crony capitalist has declared war!. Questioning their very survival!

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