`We are not opposed to the project per se, but development should not result in displacement of fishermen and denial of access to the sea.'

Our Bureau

Visakhapatnam, Dec. 19

THE stage is set for taking up the preliminary works on the Gangavaram port project, to be built and operated by a consortium headed by Mr D.V.S Raju's company in the vicinity of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, with the announcement of financial closure last week.

A consortium of 13 banks, headed by the SBI, has agreed to lend Rs 1,170 crore for the first phase of the port project, which is to be taken up in three phases at a total estimated cost of Rs 3,000 crore.

However, there are certain unresolved issued related to land acquisition - especially, the construction of a fishing jetty for the displaced fishermen in two villages (Gangavaram and Dibbapalem), directly affected by the project.

It has been agreed in principle that a fishing jetty should be built for the fishermen, but there are differences over its location. The fishermen and their leaders want it in the vicinity of the two villages but the district authorities have proposed construction of the jetty near Yarada. However, there is opposition to the proposal from the locals at Yarada. They have registered their protest with the district officials.

There is also resentment among the fishermen of Gangavaram village that the private consortium building the port has entered into an agreement only with the fishermen of Dibbapalem and ignored them. The entire village of Dibbapalem will be displaced and therefore it has to be relocated. At Gangavaram, the houses in the village will not be affected but the fishermen will be denied access to the sea, once the project works are taken up.

The fishermen of Gangavaram contend that they too should be compensated, as their livelihood is affected. The CITU leader, Mr Ch Narasinga Rao, has said the district officials as well as the private port authorities should sort out the issue with the fishermen and locate the jetty at a place convenient to them.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 20, 2005)
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