The Kerala government has agreed to hold talks with striking fishermen who have laid a siege to the ₹7,525-crore deep-water, multipurpose, international seaport and container transhipment terminal at Vizhinjam, being constructed by Adani Vizhinjam Ports. The fishermen have threatened to barge into the barricaded port premises alleging continued indifference of the State government to sustained pleas for intervention in the matter of increasing coastal erosion, allegedly aggravated by the port construction, leading to loss of lives and livelihood.

Port company airs concern

The port company has firmly denied the allegation, and said it will adhere to any instructions of the government in the wake of an emerging law and order situation in the premises. It has also welcomed the demand for a comprehensive study into the coastal erosion northward of Vizhinjam. Work at the port site has been temporarily put on hold in order not to provoke the strikers. But the port company has shared concerns over safety as strikers pulled down police barricades to enter its premises on Friday.

Govt willing to hold talks

The State government has already made it clear that any demand to entirely stop work on the mega project, which is now approaching the last stages, is non-negotiable. Ports Minister Ahammad Devarkovil reiterated the government’s stance even as protesters demand that work can continue only after the study is completed.

V Abdurahiman, Minister for Fisheries, Kerala, has said that the Government is willing to hold talks to end the strike, which threatened to go out of hands on Friday. The Minister spoke to those at the helm of the strike from New Delhi, and said he would reach the State Capital on Friday) to fix a time and venue for the talks. Shashi Tharoor, MP from Thiruvananthapuram, had met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday, and said the demand to stop work on the the port cannot be entertained. Genuine demands of the fishermen should be looked into for a satisfactory settlement.