Dear people of Trivandrum, leaving this vital port project to state politicians and hostile bureaucrats is not going to help! So is sitting idle and just crying at our fate!! Here is a detailed article on what is happening
Here are three simple steps you can do to help:
- Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining your strong support for the project and how it is going to improve your condition.
- Kindly make your mail very polite and civil, despite our strong sense of anger and disappointment.
- We have provided a sample mail below. Please go through it and if you agree, send it across to the email id above
It is time for action, people!!!
A sample mail that you can use, which explains everything we have been discussing over social media, as well as blogs
Subject: Re: Memorandum Refuting the Allegations against the Vizhinjam Port Project in Trivandrum, India
I am writing to you to express my strong protest against the malicious allegations raised the much-anticipated Vizhinjam deep-water port and container transshipment terminal project, a copy of which has been posted on your website.
As an Indian who has sincere aspirations about the Nation’s progress, I would request you not to indulge the machinations of a handful of shadowy resort owners with dubious records of their own who are intent on trying to delay or scuttle a major infrastructure project, that not only has bipartisan political and public support, but which can significantly improve the livelihood of large numbers of people, especially the economically disadvantaged sections of society.The complainants have stated that the potential of the project has been overstated and that its environmental and socioeconomic impact has been understated in the reports prepared by the IFC and its consultants. Please note the following points in this regard:1) The reports prepared by IFC and its market study consultant underestimate the potential of the project by being conservative about the container traffic potential at Vizhinjam and not estimating additional traffic volumes such as those from potential energy imports (LNG/coal).2) Even with a throughput of 1.5 Million TEUs/year as envisaged in Phase I of the project, the container terminal at Vizhinjam alone will generate revenues of $150-200 Million/year. At full capacity, the project could generate revenues of over $400-500 Million a year. 3) The actual economic impact of port projects is mostly indirect in nature, by spurring industrial development and employment in the surrounding region. Thus the boost to Kerala and India’s economy would be manifold than any estimate of the direct benefit.
4) The resorts falsely claim that they have a greater role in the economy than the port. There are only about 30 in all, that claim to be impacted by the project. These are mostly small properties, the largest two having between 25 and 35 rooms. They may have no more than 200-300 rooms in all. All are in the 2-3 star category or below. Considering the prevailing market rates in Kovalam, a quick back of the envelope calculation shows that their annual revenue is of the order of $3-3.5 Million (300 rooms X $50/night X 365 days X 60% occupancy). In short, they have grossly overstated their own economic importance.
5) None of the resorts is being forced to close down. Their only loss, if at all, would be their sea views. It is cruel to scuttle a project that could benefit the entire State and Nation for the sake of the views out the windows of a few small resorts.
6) No resort outside the immediate project area has filed a complaint or raised a protest. The vast majority of the resorts in the Kovalam-Poovar tourist belt lie outside the project area and have not joined the complainants in their dire predictions that beaches in the vicinity will vanish.
7) It’s understood that the broader tourism industry and the business community are in favor of the project and thus the claims of the complainants that tourism in the entire region will be destroyed are gross exaggerations and not shared by other stakeholders in the vicinity.
8) The construction of a cruise terminal in the port could bring at least 50-60 ships a year and over 100,000 new tourists to the area, because of Vizhinjam’s proximity to the shipping lanes that carry hundreds of cruise ships each year. (The port in Cochin, which is 200 Km further away from the shipping lanes and which does not have a dedicated cruise terminal, received over 40 ships and 60,000 tourists last year alone). This would be a massive boost to the tourism industry around the project, especially to resorts in the immediate vicinity.
9) While the complainants have alleged massive environmental damage from the project, they do not have a shred of scientific evidence to back this up nor have they demonstrated any professional competence to make this claim whereas the environmental study commissioned by VISL and IFC has been conducted in a rigorous scientific manner by experts in the field.
10) The complainants’ environmental conscience is extremely questionable as they are operating resorts in a coastal area where it’s forbidden to have any permanent construction except for port-related structures. If they respected the environment as they claim to, their first action would have been to shift their operations to a different location. Thus, their concern for the environment seems very dubious and was probably highlighted only to further their vested interests.
11) The economically disadvantaged fishing community has repeatedly come out in favor of the project because they understand that the project will not only bring in direct and indirect employment opportunities but it will also create avenues for value addition to their catch and for quick and direct exports of the marine products which will improve their economic standing.
12) It will also be possible to expand the heavily congested fishing harbor at Vizhinjam in conjunction with the port project, while the new roads, power and water supply being built for the project will benefit the community around the project.
In short, you are being asked to sit in judgement on a complaint that has no basis in truth, science, sincere concern for the environment or for the welfare of the community. This is an attempt to pervert the very purpose of an institution like the Ombudsman to serve very narrow vested interests of a small group of individuals. The Vizhinjam port project has been the dream of an entire State for over five decades and I certainly hope that you will help it to reach fruition at the very earliest.
A very concerned citizen of India