Cong targets Kerala CM on fishing contract with US firm, CM dismisses allegations

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(Repeats after adding words in third, fourth para) Kozhikode, Mar 25 (PTI) The Congress on Thursday alleged that the involvement of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office in the deep sea fishing contract between the state government and a US-based firm was exposed now and attempts by him to absolve from its responsibility has 'miserably failed'.

However, Vijayan refuted the allegation and said there is a conspiracy to target the Chief Minister's office in the matter.

Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Ramesh Chennithala's attack on the chief minister came at a press conference here in response to a channel report that claimed rpt claimed 'proof' about the knowledge and involvement of the Chief Minister and his office in the controversial project.

'There is ample evidence to substantiate that the Chief Minister was well aware of the project and all details about the controversial proposal submitted by the US-based firm which mooted the project for deep sea fishing in Kerala coast,' the Congress leader alleged.

'I have not seen such a Chief Minister who tells nothing but lies,' he added.

A row had erupted over the MoU signed for deep sea fishing resultingin the government terminating the pact inked with the US firm, EMCC, for deep sea trawling and construction of state-of-the-art trawler-boats.

However, the government had put the blame solely on Prashant, Managing Director of the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) Limited, for proposing and proceeding with such a project without consulting or informing the state government.

Prashant served as the private secretary to Chennithala when he became the state home minister in 2014.

'There is a conspiracy hatched to target the Chief Minister's office.Since the probe is going on, I am not revealing much now.These days, nothing can be kept as a secret for long.The beginning of this issue itself was part of that conspiracy.' 'We have done so much for the fishermen community and have their support..,' Vijayan said, adding this has irked the opposition parties.

The Chief Minister said the LDF has declared in its manifesto for the assembly polls a Rs 5,000 crore package for coastal area development to protect the shores from erosion, harbour and market development along the coasts, among others, PTI CORR RRT BN BN