A seven-year-long agitation against an Adani Group port project turned violent in southern India over the past weekend.
Protesters belonging to a local fishing community in Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the coastal state of Kerala, attacked a local police station yesterday (Nov. 27). The incident left more than 35 policemen injured and damaged property worth Rs 85 lakh.
The attack came a day after construction was re-commenced by Adani Vizhinjam Port after a court gave the company a go-ahead for its $900 million project.
The court brushed aside the environmental concerns raised by the locals. The protestors had said that “the port’s development had caused coastal erosion and deprived them of their livelihoods,” Reuters reported.
The court, however, directed the state government to provide police protection to the project and barred the protesters from there.
The protest in Vizhinjam has parallels in the agitation the Adani Group had faced in Queensland’s Carmichael coal mine in Australia.
Adani’s Vizhinjam port, being built as a public-private partnership project, is expected to help the company win business from Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Dubai.
Developed by Adani Ports, it is a deep-sea water facility and is touted as India’s first “mega trans-shipment container terminal.” Deemed more economical than point-to-point shipping, a trans-shipment port transfers containers from mainline vessels on key trade routes to smaller vessels on other trade lanes, creating a hub-and-spoke network.
Construction first began in Vizhunjam in December 2015 and the first phase of the project was expected to be completed by 2025. However, protests, which began around the same time, threw a spanner in Adani’s gear.
The protesters are said to represent a fishing community of more than 50,000 members whose livelihoods are under a cloud.
The Kerala government, though, had emphasized that the project has no role in the seashore erosion witnessed in the area. It pointed towards natural disasters as the culprit.
Fifty-nine-year-old Gautam Adani’s company earlier made headlines for its Carmichael coal mine project in Australia, where it was opposed by climate activists.
Protesters there were concerned about carbon emissions and damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Adani was eventually forced to downsize the production targets for the mine and delay its first coal shipment by six years.
“In recent years, 44 of the world’s biggest insurers, including five that have previously insured Carmichael—Brit, Apollo, Tokio Marine Kiln, Aspen and Ascot—have said they will not provide coverage to the mine in the future...Banks including BNY Mellon and China’s ICBC have cut ties with or ruled out financing the Adani mine in Australia,” The Financial Times reported.