(Eds: Adding EMCC's reaction) Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 22 (PTI)The Kerala government on Monday decided to cancel the controversial MoU signed between US-based EMCC International and the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation, against which the opposition has levelled serious charges, drawing a strong reaction from EMCC.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed the officials concerned to cancel the deal and probe the circumstances under which such an MoU was signed, government sources told PTI.
The step was taken reportedly to avoid further controversies, with the opposition levelling fresh charges and bringing out what they term as 'evidence' almost every day.
Meanwhile,EMCC International India Private Limited president Shiju Varghese came out against the cancellation of the agreement.
'On what basis is the government cancelling the MoU? We are not any monopoly who are coming to plunder the fish stock of the state.
Why did the Fisheries Minister not tell us prior if the project is against the state's Fisheries' Policy?' he told a television channel.
KSINC Managing Director N Prasanth and Shiju Varghese recently inked a Rs 2,950 crore pact to build 400 deep sea fishing trawlers and new harbours and for the port development activities.
However, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had alleged that this particular MoU was part of a Rs 5,000 crore mammoth project promoting deep sea fishing in the state waters.
It was against the proclaimed Fisheries' Policy of the state and would adversely affect the interests of lakhs of fishermen, he alleged.
Vijayan had on Saturday dismissed the charge that the government entered into an agreement for the deep sea fishing contract with the US-based firm, saying no foreign company would be allowed to engage in deep sea trawling in the state's waters.
He also asserted that his government would not deviate from its fisheries policy and would continue to encourage the traditional fishermen to become the 'owners of deep sea fishing vessels.' Earlier in the day, Chennithala released a copy of the state's purported letter to the Centre in December 2019, requesting verification of EMCC's credentials.
Addressed to the Principal Secretary K R Jyothilal, it had specifically mentioned that the company was interested in innovative technology development for the upgradation and promotion of deep sea fishing in Kerala.
In the letter, addressed to the Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, he also said that the firm had submitted a concept note to the state government regarding this.
Chennithala, at a press meet here, said the government was well aware that the project submitted by the company was for deep sea fishing, which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma had denied for the last two days.
He had also released the photos of the fisheries minister holding discussions with the company officials last week. PTI LGK APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR