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Shipping Minister comes under fire

Special Correspondent

Over denial of security clearance to Vizhinjam container project

Thiruvananthapuram: The Thiruvananthapuram Residents' Apex Council (TRAC) has expressed strong protest over the denial of security clearance to the Vizhinjam container transhipment terminal project.

A press note quoting the TRAC president Amaravila Ramakrishnan Nair accused Union Minister of Shipping T.R. Baalu of sabotaging the project on parochial grounds.

The press note alleged that Mr. Baalu was trying to scuttle the Vizhinjam project in favour of the proposal to construct a commercial port at Kolachal in Tamil Nadu, his home State.

"Ignoring the immense potential of the Vizhinjam project smacks of a myopic vision and political opportunism," it said.

Mr. Nair said the involvement of Chinese companies in the project could not be viewed as a security threat at a time when India was going all out to improve relations with other countries and opening its doors to international trade.

Plea to Government

He urged the State Government to make the project a reality.

The Capital City Development Forum also criticised the Central Government decision denying security clearance to the Vizhinjam project.

Forum secretary K.T. Roy said in a pressnote here on Saturday that the Government's approach was unreasonable.

"India opens up the Nathu La pass to China, tries to improve bilateral trade and military cooperation with that country, State Bank of India opens a branch in Shanghai, yet the Government sees a security threat when two Chinese companies come forward to develop the Vizhinjam port," he said.

`Bid to scuttle project'

The press note alleged that Mr. Baalu was trying to scuttle the Vizhinjam project and promote Kolachal as a port.

It called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to oust Mr. Baalu from the Cabinet for violation of the oath of office and take steps to clear the Vizhinjam project at the earliest.

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