KOCHI — Construction work on a $900 million port in the state of Kerala, being built by India’s Adani Group, will be speeded up to meet a deadline of September 2023, the local government said on Wednesday, a week after four month-long protests ended at the site.
More barges would be pressed into service, the amount of granite being consumed for the work would be doubled and additional machinery would be brought in, a statement from the state government said after a meeting between Adani Ports Chief Executive Rajesh Jha and local authorities.
Protesters from a mostly-Christian nearby village said the construction of the port would cause soil erosion that would undermine their livelihoods, halting work on the site in the coastal town of Vizhingam in the southern Indian state.
Clashes between police and protesters in November injured more than 100 people, including 64 police officers.
Protest leaders said last week that they had agreed with the state government and were temporarily suspending their action.
The Adani conglomerate, which is shouldering a third of the project’s cost with the rest borne by the Kerala state and the Indian federal governments, has said the port complies with all laws and cited studies saying it is not linked to shoreline erosion.
The Kerala state government has also said that any erosion was due to natural causes.
The port is of strategic importance to Asia’s richest man, Gautam Adani, as well as to India. Once completed, it will become India’s first container transhipment hub, potentially rivaling Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka for business on the lucrative east-west trade routes. (Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; editing by David Evans)