Vizhinjam Port's Construction Prompts Complaints Over Coastal Erosion

Construction under way at Vizhinjam (Adani)

Published Oct 9, 2022 11:17 AM by The Maritime Executive

India’s State of Kerala has announced it will set up a four-member special committee to review local complaints about the ongoing construction of Vizhinjam Port, a project of industrial conglomerate Adani Group.

The construction of the port began in 2015 at Kerala’s Vizhinjam town, located at the southern tip of India. However, local residents and fishermen have raised opposition to the project, claiming it has led to increased coastal erosion and affected their livelihoods.

This is the main line of inquiry for the committee of experts, who are expected to give a full report on coastal erosion near the port’s construction site.

The panel will also identify “specific measures to address the coastal erosion, if any, observed in the zone of influence of construction,” Kerala’s state government wrote in an order dated October 6.

In August, Kerala’s government rejected a motion submitted by the state’s opposition to halt the construction of the port.

In the same month, Adani Ports moved to court, seeking to compel the state government to provide protection for its workers. In the plea, Adani Ports said that the ongoing protests by fishermen were posing a threat to its employees. The request was granted in September, with the court directing Kerala’s government to provide protection for the construction project.

The port project's advocates claim that the area covered by local residents' complaints is located miles away from the port and had already been experiencing coastal erosion for years before construction started.

Adani Ports hopes that Vizhinjam Port will be the first true transshipment container terminal on the Indian subcontinent. Its central location on the Indian coastline, its 65-foot harbor depth and its vicinity to international shipping routes may make the port project competitive. The port of Colombo, Sri Lanka, has historically dominated the transshipment business in the region, but the island nation’s economic collapse has prompted shippers to look to India’s ports instead.

In its first phase, Vizhinjam will have capacity for one million TEU, and infrastructure for another 6.2 million TEU worth of cargo will be built in subsequent phases.