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 Entrance to the proposed Vizhinjam Port in the state of Kerala, India
Villagers see the port as an environmental threat and damaging to their livelihoodsImage: Munsif Vengattil/REUTERS

India: Scores injured as protest against Adani port grows

November 28, 2022

More than 80 people have been injured in southern India as villagers continue to protest the building of a seaport. The project is being financed by Asia's richest man, Gautam Adani.


Protests against the construction of a port in southern India continued on Sunday, with more than 80 people, including police officers, being injured in clashes after villagers marched on a local police station.

The clashes came after a number of protesters were arrested by police on the weekend while blocking access of construction vehicles to the Vizhinjam seaport, which is being built by the ports and logistics company of Gautam Adani, estimated by Forbes to be the world's third-richest man.

The protests have gone on despite repeated orders by the top court of the state of Kerala to allow construction to start.

What happened at the protest?

Video footage showed hundreds of protesters from the largely Christian fishing community marching on the police station. They were led by Roman Catholic priests, with one Catholic representative in the state previously calling the project a manmade catastrophe.

Police said the protesters "came with lethal weapons and barged into the station and held the police hostage, threatening that if people in custody were not released they would set the station on fire."

Speaking for the protesters, Eugine H. Pereira, the vicar general of the archdiocese and one of the leaders of the protests, said police pelted the demonstrators with stones.

Senior local police official M R Ajith Kumar told Reuters news agency 36 officers were wounded in the clashes. Joseph Johnson, another of the protest leaders, said at least 46 protesters were also hurt.

The Adani Group did not immediately comment on the latest protests.

India: Locals protest Vizhinjam port project

What is the situation regarding the port?

Construction of the $900 million ($862 million) port has been halted for more than three months amid the protest by villagers who see it as causing coastal erosion and depriving them of their livelihoods.

The Adani Group sees the port, located on the southern tip of India, as vital in the competition with rivals in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka. 

It has said the port complies with all laws, and refers to studies showing it is not linked to shoreline erosion. Its standpoint is backed by the state government of Kerala.

The protests recall similar action taken by activists in Australia against Adani's Carmichael coal mine, which faced a backlash over carbon emissions and possible damage to the Great Barrier Reef. In the end, production targets at the mine were reduced, while the first coal shipment from the mine was delayed by six years.

tj/kb (Reuters, KNA)

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