Adani Port construction stalled for more than three months
Police and protesters clashed on Sunday, prompting more security
About 400 police officers on duty to guard a port in southern India
Protesters say they will continue
(Adds details from port site, changes date)
VIJINJAM, India, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Police in southern India on Tuesday stepped up security around a $900 million transshipment port being built by billionaire Gautam Adani’s conglomerate after dozens of people were injured in clashes with Christian protesters. fishing community.
Construction on the mega port project in Vizhinjam in southern India was halted for more than three months by protesters who blocked the entrance to the site with a makeshift shed. They blame the port’s development for coastal erosion that has affected their livelihoods, a charge Adani Group denies.
Over the weekend, villagers stormed a police station to protest the arrest of some project opponents, and more than 80 people were injured during the clashes, including 36 police officers. To prevent further violence, the Kerala state police are sending reinforcements to the Vizhinjam area, senior police officer Ajith V told Reuters.
“We are preparing to face any situation,” he said. At the station, located about 3 km (2 miles) from the port, more than 100 police officers, some armed with batons, stood guard.
Another state police official, who declined to be named, said security had also been beefed up around the port, which is close to Kovalam Beach, an area popular with tourists.
The port is of strategic importance to both India and Adani, Asia’s richest man and the world’s third-richest.
Once completed, it will become India’s first container transshipment hub, rivaling Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka for business on the lucrative East-West trade routes.
The first phase of construction was due to be completed by the end of 2024. The Adani Group said in court documents that the protests had caused “enormous loss” and “significant delay”.
The company has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic priests leading the protests as well as the Kerala government for failing to take any action.
But despite court orders that the protests must not interfere with construction, the villagers refused to budge, saying they would remove their shelter — a 1,200-square-foot structure consisting of pillars holding up a corrugated iron roof — once construction on the project was complete. called off.
“The protests will continue,” one of the protest leaders, Joy Gerald, told Reuters near the shelter.
The Adani Group says the port complies with all laws and cites studies that show it is not linked to shoreline erosion. The state government also says that any erosion is due to natural causes.
Adani has previously faced protests in Australia, where environmental activists launched the “Stop Adani” movement to protest its Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland state. There, activists concerned about carbon emissions and damage to the Great Barrier Reef forced Adani to lower production targets and delayed the first delivery from the mine for years.
(Writing by Aditya Kalra; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Miral Fahmy)