Agitated by the restarting of the stalled construction of Indian Oil Corporation’s LPG Import Terminal at Puthuvype in Kochi, the residents in the region have come together stating that they are going to start protest over the issue from Wednesday.
The construction of import terminal at Puthuvype had been stalled for about two years since 2017, after massive protests erupted among residents in the region. The plant consists of two parts, namely multi-user liquid terminal and storage terminal. About 45% of the construction of storage terminal was completed by 2017.
The protest of Puthuvype residents with the demand that they do not want such a plant that could turn life-threatening, had been continuing since 2009.
But on Monday, the residents of Puthuvype woke up to see massive police force being deployed in their neighbourhood. In a categorical move, Ernakulam District Collector S Suhas released an order in the wee morning hours of Tuesday, stating that prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in one division of Kochi city corporation and 10 wards of the Elamkunnapuzha gram panchayat. About a thousand police officers have been deployed in the region.
Agitated over the incident, the members of Janakeeya Samara Samithi have decided to protest in front of the Elamkunnapuzha panchayat office grounds in large numbers.
“If the protest was against IOC this whole while, now we are going to protest against the state government," said KS Murali, convener of the Janakeeya Samara Samithi.
As per the protestors, the agitations were stopped in 2017 after the all-party meeting. "It was decided then that an expert committee will study the grievances of the people and that a final decision will be taken in another all-party meeting followed by the study. But the Chief Minister has not yet come even once for any discussion since that,” he said.
The residents allege that the construction work of the terminal has now restarted on the basis of a false risk analysis report. “If at all a gas leak happens at the terminal, the report says that only 115 metres around the terminal will be affected. But when we checked, we could find that the report was indeed fake. And now, on what basis have they imposed prohibitory orders? They came like thieves at night with the help of police to restart the construction. How is this even justifiable," asks Murali.
Meanwhile, in the order, the District Collector said he decided to clamp Section 144 of the CrPC after he got information from reliable sources that there will be a massive protest from agitators at Puthuvype.
He said there was information that left wing extremist elements may take part in the protest and will try to forcibly disrupt the project work and use violence against Indian Oil Corporation's workers, which may lead to severe law and order issues in the area and its surroundings.
The District Collector, using his power as the district magistrate of Ernakulam, prohibited any assembly, protest, demonstration, meeting, unlawful activities or possessing any materials related to the above purposes in the vicinity of the project site and also in the surrounding places.
During the protests in 2017, several people were injured when police lathi-charged the protesters after they allegedly tried to breach a security cordon and storm the site.