Santosh Mahapatra, CEO of the controversy ridden Vizhinjam port project, which was signed for a whopping 7525 crores between the Adani group and the Kerala Government in August 2015, resigned from his position on Friday. Santosh Mahapatra cited personal reasons for his resignation.
However, sources claim that Mahapatra expressed dissatisfaction in the snail pace progress of the project as the reason for his resignation. Mahapatra was the CEO even when the agreement was signed.
It is also reported that the project has come to a standstill due to the non-availability of granite. This additional roadblock is said to lead to further delay in the project which was initiated with clear deadlines (first phase is to be completed by December 2019)
The dream project near the tourist hub Kovalam in Kerala was ridden with controversies with the protests by local population, last October, over delayed compensation. Protests against damages caused by berth piling projects had also affected the project.
The protestors said they were promised compensation which was delayed. Further they added that after piling works began, several houses located away from the port site developed cracks, affecting the local fishing community.
Seven time legislator, P C George, who was also present at the protests, even claimed that the project was cleared without a proper environment impact study and many areas around the coastline have eroded due to the project.
"Even the Kerala High Court has expressed surprise in the agreement with Adani Ports. Its most unfortunate that the then Left opposition and the then Congress-led ruling alliance had been bought over by Adani and hence this one-sided agreement got cleared," alleged George as he interacted with reporters at the protest site.
The project was embroiled in controversy even earlier when the Comptroller and Auditor General found that the company stood to make profits of nearly 30,000 crores.
Additionally, the dredging work to modernize the 2000-year-old port undertaken by Adani group, which was started 2015 resulted in massive erosion in the villages of Punthura and Bhimapally.
Adani group was the lone bidder and sought Rs 1,635 crore as grant for the project. The Vizhinjam Port envisaged to be completed in three phases would enable ships with a capacity of even 18,000 TEU (20-feet equivalent units) to dock.
CAG report and Judicial probe
The CAG, in its report tabled in the assembly in May 2017, had said the concession agreement of the Vizhinjam seaport project had several conditions that went against the interests of the State government, but were advantageous to Adani Ports and SEZ Private Limited.
The CAG report also said that by allowing ten years extra concession period to the Concessionaire - Adani Group would be benefitted an additional revenue of Rs 29,217 crore. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who took the lead in signing the agreement with the Adanis, said that allowing ten years extension period to the Adani Group was as per the Model Concession Agreement stipulated by the Planning Commission of India.