Indian fishermen oppose the billionaires port project

Police at the entrance of the Port Project in Kerala state to stop protesters.Photo by Moncef Fengatel/Reuters

Poor fishermen, most of them Christians, have for months resisted the construction of the port of Visingham, which they say is causing coastal erosion and damaging their fishing grounds. The billion-dollar project is a public-private initiative by the Kerala state and port authority of Indian businessman Adani, according to US business magazine. Forbes Third richest man in the world.

Fishermen have been blocking access to the port site since August, which means a halt to construction preparations. The police remained aloof for a long time, fearing social and religious tensions. Last week, the state’s highest court ordered work to resume. The activists who did not abandon the siege and stopped the trucks were arrested last weekend.

According to the Reuters news agency that several hundred villagers led by Catholic priests took to the streets on Monday to demand the release of the detainees. They threatened to set fire to the local police station and allegedly attacked officers and police cars, according to police and video footage. At least 36 police officers and 46 protesters were reportedly injured in the clashes.

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Geopolitical battle

The deep-sea port of Vizhinjam (near Thiruvananthapuram, formerly Trivandrum) is strategically located at the southern tip of India, at the crossroads of sea trade routes between east and west. Gautam Adani and the state of Kerala hope to steal trade from rival ports in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Modi’s government encourages this. India is engaged in a geopolitical battle with China for dominance in the Indian Ocean.

According to Al-Adani Group, the construction of the port is carried out in accordance with all laws and regulations, and scientific studies will show that this does not lead to coastal erosion. According to Kerala, the current erosion in the southern tip of India is due to natural causes.

The Adani group often clashes with the locals. In Australia, the company opened the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. Local residents and environmental activists oppose an open-pit mine there, due to adverse weather effects and projected damage to the Great Barrier Reef from ship traffic to the coal terminal. This led to a downsizing of the project. With a six-year delay, the first shipload of coal left Abbott Point (also owned by Adani) at the end of last year.

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