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Vizhinjam Port: A Tale of Progress, Future Aspirations, and Political Dynamics

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Kerala: The inaugural vessel ‘Zhen Hua 15’ from China to be first cargo vessel that is set to dock at Vizhinjam International Port,  Kerala on Sunday 15 October 2023. The Minister for Ports Sarbananda Sonowal and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will officially receive the first ship to berth at the ₹ 7,525 crore deep-water international seaport and container transshipment terminal at Vizhinjam at a ceremony held at Vizhinjam on October 15.

Progress: Navigating Turbulent Waters Toward Operational Excellence

In a recent press conference, Rajesh Jha, CEO of Adani Vizhinjam Port Company, unveiled an optimistic roadmap, promising that Vizhinjam Port would achieve full operational status by December 2024. This commitment marks the culmination of extensive construction, with the first phase scheduled for completion in May. The port, located against the scenic coastline of Kerala, aspires to become India’s only port capable of anchoring even the world’s largest cargo ship. The journey has not been without challenges, including delays, controversies, and protests, notably a fishermen’s strike in 2022.

As Vizhinjam Port inches closer to reality, it signifies progress not just in infrastructure but in overcoming a tapestry of hurdles and controversies. The initial deal signed in 2015 faced objections from the opposition, with critics labeling it a land scam. However, the recent docking of the cargo ship Zhen Hua 15, laden with ship-to-shore cranes, marks a demonstration of Vizhinjam’s readiness to receive motherships, reflecting tangible progress in its construction.


Future: Charting a Course for Global Maritime Significance

Vizhinjam Port, set against the scenic coastline of Kerala, is not merely a construction project; it’s a vision for the future. With its natural advantages, including a depth of 20 meters and proximity to major shipping routes, the port positions itself as a potential hub for some of the world’s largest ships. Once operational, it aims to handle one million containers annually, potentially surpassing even Singapore. The port’s significance extends beyond economic implications; it has the potential to reshape India’s position in global maritime trade. The Narendra Modi-led government’s Maritime India Vision 2030 aligns with Vizhinjam’s objectives, seeking to develop world-class mega ports and transshipment hubs.

However, the path to the future is not without its share of political narratives.


Politics: A Battleground of Narratives Amidst Construction Cranes

The political landscape surrounding Vizhinjam Port is a battleground for credits, narratives, and controversies. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hails Vizhinjam as a testament to the state’s willpower, emphasizing its game-changing role in Kerala’s infrastructure and development. The Congress, aiming to claim credit, points to the Chandy government’s initiation of the deal in 2015.

The recent docking of the cargo ship Zhen Hua 15, laden with ship-to-shore cranes, becomes a backdrop for a clash of narratives between Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) and the Opposition Congress. As the project nears completion, the synthesis of progress, future potential, and political dynamics makes Vizhinjam not just a seaport but a testament to the intricate interplay between infrastructure development, political narratives, and the aspirations of a state on the brink of a transformative journey.

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