|And Adani came back with a bang!
A protest that lasted 140 days came to an end in
Vizhinjam the other day. For those who don’t know, Vizhinjam is a seaport near
Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala. The International Container Trans-shipment
Terminal project got under way there in 2015, not much after Narendra Modi
became India’s Prime Minister. Modi is important here – as anywhere in the
cosmos now – because the project was handed over on a platter to none other
than his friend, Gautam Shantilal Adani.
It was Oommen Chandy’s Congress
government in Kerala then. The irony is that the Marxist government of Pinarayi
Vijayan which succeeded soon went out of its way to support Adani though
Vijayan’s party is the very antithesis of capitalism, particularly crony
capitalism of Modi’s kind. Vijayan’s party is also vehemently opposed to everything
that Modi’s party stands for. But in Vizhinjam, the two parties came together,
shook hands and partook of Adani’s sumptuous dinner.
Years passed and nothing much happened
in Vizhinjam. At least, not what was promised in the contract. The first phase
of the project was to be completed by 2021. If it was not completed, Adani had
to pay a massive fine of Rs 12 lakh per day to Kerala government. The work was
not completed and the fine was not paid. No one expects any corporate bigwig
like Adani to pay fines to governments in India. But there are some media
people who will always create noise about these things in Kerala.
Now a Malayalam journal that has not
yet gone the NDTV way, Keralasabdam, comes out with the allegation that
the 140-day protest was orchestrated by Adani himself in
order to escape the enormous fines. It is also interesting that the Catholic Church
in Thiruvananthapuram led the protest. Now the fascinating questions is: how
much did the Church get from Adani in the deal?
Adani is now demanding Rs200 crore as
compensation for the labour-days lost because of the protest. That’s a nice
The simple fisherfolk who are the
real losers in the whole process have been taken for a ride all through.
Hundreds of them lost their houses because of the project. Many lost lives.
Thousands of them are enduring unwarranted discomfort in relief camps and
rented houses. And now Keralasabdam says that even
their god betrayed them.
I won’t be surprised if the Church in
Kerala chose to abide with Modi & Co. There are too many sins that the
leaders of the Church have committed in the recent past that a PM like Modi can
pick up easily and wield against the establishment very effectively. The Church
will crack like a faulty fortress within moments if those sins are exposed. It
won’t crumble, though. Religion is still a blinding force, you see. You can
never open the eyes of a fanatic. Try and check out.
The Vizhinjam project has already
cost much to Kerala. Not just financially. Beaches like Shankhumukham vanished
after the dredging started in Vizhinjam. Rivers in Kerala altered their shapes.
The granite hills vanished as the rocks were used in the project. And most of
all, the fishermen in the area lost everything that was dear to them.
Who gains in the end? Not Kerala.
Kerala just pays for the project. All the profits will go to Adani once the
project is completed though he has contributed nothing in effect to the project.
He will pay commission to political parties. Politicians will gain. They have
already gained too much. Why suck the blood of ordinary people again and again?
Such questions are idiotic, I know. This is Development, yaar.