- Billionaire Al-Adani’s massive seaport project hits with protests
- Clashes between police and protesters late Sunday as tensions rose
- The dispute over the construction of ports, which caused coastal erosion
- Al-Adani says he has all the necessary permits to develop the ports
KOCHI, India, Nov 28 (Reuters) – More than 80 people were injured in India when villagers protesting against a halt to construction of the $900 million Vizhinjam port project by India’s Adani Group clashed with police in Kerala state, the latest escalation in months. He hits.
Protests by a mostly Christian fishing community against the $23 billion project led by billionaire Gautam Adani have forced the latter to halt work on the port, which is seen as a potential and lucrative competitor to those in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka. .
Construction halted for more than three months after villagers blamed the port development for coastal erosion and depriving them of their livelihoods. They sealed off the entrance to the site by erecting a 1,200-square-foot shelter.
Over the weekend, police arrested some protesters who prevented El Adani’s construction vehicles from entering the port, despite a court order to resume work.
The arrests prompted hundreds of protesters, led by Catholic priests, to march on the police station late Sunday night, leading to clashes with individuals and damage to police vehicles, according to a police document and video footage broadcast on local television.
Joseph Johnson, one of the protest leaders, said at least 46 demonstrators were injured. Ajith Kumar, a senior local police official, told Reuters that 36 officers were injured in the clashes.
Another police official, who did not wish to be named, said security had been stepped up after the incident, with more than 600 officers deployed across Visingham.
Located on the southern tip of India, the port seeks access to the lucrative East-West trade routes, adding to the global reach of the business spearheaded by Adani, the richest man in Asia and the third richest man in the world.
The El Adani Group did not respond to a request for comment on the protests over the weekend. The company said the port complies with all laws and cited studies that show it is not linked to coastal erosion. The state government also said that any erosion was due to natural causes.
In the recent clashes, the police’s case document said the protesters “came with deadly weapons and stormed the station and took the police hostage, threatening to set the station on fire if the detainees were not released.”
Eugene H. Pereira, the diocese’s attorney general and protest leader, said police stoned protesters.
The port protests recall the backlash Adani faced in Australia over the Carmichael coal mine. There, activists concerned about carbon emissions and damage to the Great Barrier Reef forced the Adani to scale back production targets and delay the mine’s first shipment of coal by six years.
Indian protests continued despite repeated orders from the Kerala High Court to allow construction to resume. Police were largely unwilling to take action, fearing it would lead to social and religious tensions, Reuters previously reported.
On Monday, the court heard Adani’s concerns again and asked the state administration why its order to ensure the continued construction of the ports had not been implemented. The judge asked state officials to provide a response by Friday.
The giant Adani Group bears one-third of the cost of the project while the rest is borne by the state and federal governments. It has a 40-year agreement to build and operate the port.
Written by Aditya Kalra; Additional reporting by Urban Chaturvedi. Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Meral Fahmy, and Bernadette Boehm
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