Chinese ship ‘Zhen Hua 15’ reaches Vizhinjam, will be first to dock at international port on 15 October

The vessel carrying cranes will be pulled to the port in an official event that will be attended by Union minister for ports and Kerala CM.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 12, 2023 | 3:29 PMUpdatedOct 12, 2023 | 3:29 PM

Zhen Hua 15 Vizhinjam port

Zhen Hua 15, a cargo vessel from China, was received by tug boats with a water salute on Thursday, 12 October, as it arrived near the Vizhinjam International Seaport close to Thiruvananthapuram.

On 15 October, this freighter will be the first to dock at Vizhinjam International Seaport — claimed to be the country’s first container transshipment port built to international standards.

Zhen Hua 15, which is carrying cranes, will be pulled to the ₹7,700 crore deep-water transship port by the tug boats on 15 October in an official event that will be attended by Union Minister for Ports Sarbananda Sonowal and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, PTI reported.

Vizhinjan International Seaport is being constructed under the public-private partnership model. Adani Group is the private partner in the development of the port, which is going to be one of the largest ports in the world once commissioned.

Also read: Kerala planning to develop global business hub around Vizhinjam

Started the journey in August

Zhen Hua 15, which began its journey from China at the end of August, was scheduled to dock at Vizhinjam on 4 October, but it got delayed due to bad weather conditions along its route.

On reaching Indian coastal waters, it first went to Mundra port in Gujarat to offload some cranes and then proceeded towards Vizhinjam. It docked at Vizhinjam port at around 11.20 am on Thursday.

The Kerala government last month had said that three more ships would be coming in October and November to the port which is expected to be commissioned by May next year.

The government had also said that 75 percent of the breakwater construction is also complete.

The project, which was scheduled to be commissioned in 2019, got delayed due to several issues related to land acquisition.

Also read: Kerala chief minister says can’t block infrastructure development

International standards

According to its official website: “It is designed primarily to cater container transhipment besides multi-purpose and break bulk cargo. The port is being currently developed in landlord model with a Public Private Partnership component on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (“DBFOT”) basis.”

The Vizhinjam project aims to plug into the lucrative shipping trade between juggernaut manufacturers in the East and wealthy consumer markets in the West.

In 2022, the construction works were stalled following the intense agitation by the fish workers of the region, primarily members of the Latin Catholic community.

The protestors said that the under-construction project was causing large-scale sea erosion in the region, depriving them of their livelihood. Hundreds of houses and community spaces of the fish workers have been washed away in surging sea waters since the construction works began four years ago.

Related: Erosion not because of Vizhinjam port, draft White Paper tells NGT

The protests

Vizhinjam had also witnessed violent protests as fishermen in the area opposed the project, alleging that the port could adversely affect their livelihood.

Following the 138-day protest in 2022, the Latin Catholic Church called off its agitation against the project following a late-night closed-door discussion with Pinarayi Vijayan on 6 December, 2022.

Most of the affected fishing workers belong to the Latin Catholic community and were aggrieved by the Church’s decision to abruptly end the protest without gaining any significant assurances from the government or the Adani Group.

Most of the demands raised by the agitators — including setting up an independent scientific committee with at least two members nominated by the affected fisherfolk, and suspending the construction work till the committee comes out with its conclusions — had been summarily rejected.

The government also rejected the demand that all criminal cases registered against the agitators be dropped and is not in favour of increasing the compensation package for the fisherfolk who lost their houses and livelihood to the surging sea waters.

(With PTI inputs)