Vizhinjam ship welcoming: Congress expresses displeasure over exclusion of opposition from ceremony

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 11 (PTI) As Kerala celebrates the docking of the first mothership at Vizhinjam International Seaport, the Congress expressed displeasure on Thursday over the government's alleged decision to exclude the opposition leadership from the ceremony.

A big cargo ship, 'San Fernando', from China arrived at Kerala's newly-built Vizhinjam International Sea Port on Thursday, marking the first container ship arrival at India's first international deep-water trans-shipment port.

Senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor announced that he would not attend the programme organised to officially welcome the vessel, citing a lack of progress on the local people's demands for compensation and rehabilitation.

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), meanwhile, claimed that the project was former Chief Minister Late Oommen Chandy's "baby" and asked that it be named after the late leader.

Tharoor said the commitments made by the previous UDF government were not honoured by the present LDF government.

In a post on social media platform X, the Congress leader said he sincerely hopes that the pending issues and grievances of the local community will be visibly and satisfactorily addressed before the port commences its formal operations later this year.

Meanwhile, KPCC President K Sudhakaran said it was the sheer determination of former chief minister Chandy that made the seaport a reality and urged the government to name it after the Congress leader.

"But the Pinarayi Vijayan government is deliberately ignoring Chandy's contribution to the project. The intolerance of the Left government is evident in its refusal to invite the leader of opposition to the event being organised to welcome the first mothership," Sudhakaran said.

Sudhakaran said when the UDF government went forward with the Vizhinjam project, the LDF and the CPI(M) had tried their best to stop it.

"Pinarayi Vijayan, who tried to end the project, is now taking credit for it," Sudhakaran alleged.

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said the Vizhinjam international seaport was the "baby of UDF".

"It was the dream project of the UDF government. It was the sheer determination of Oommen Chandy that realised this project.

"Chief Minister Vijayan used to say that Vizhinjam port was a Rs 6,000 crore real-estate scam. Those who insulted Chandy and the UDF are now taking credit for the project. It shows their double standard," Satheesan said.

Meanwhile, UDF Convenor M M Hassan on Thursday said the UDF will organise marches across the state, hailing the "contribution of Oommen Chandy" in making the project a reality.

"There is no doubt that the Vizhinjam project is the baby of Oommen Chandy and the UDF. Now the Congress leaders are not invited to the events because last time, the LoP and the Thiruvananthapuram MP had mentioned the role of Chandy and the UDF," Hassan said.

The mothership was given a water salute by four tugboats on Thursday, which piloted it to the dock.

San Fernando, a 300-metre-long cargo ship, will offload 1,900 containers at Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL).

The total investment for the Vizhinjam port came up to Rs 8,867 crore. Out of this, the state government and the central government have allocated Rs 5,595 crore and Rs 818 crore respectively.

Equipped with modern equipment and advanced automation and IT systems, Vizhinjam will become India's first semi-automated port, expected to be fully commissioned in September or October 2024. PTI RRT RRT ANE

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