Ker govt had sent letter to Centre on deep sea fishing: Chennithala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 22 (PTI): In what could spell fresh trouble to the Left government in Kerala, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala on Monday released a copy of the state's letter to the Centre regarding a US-based firm, with whom he alleged that it had earlier entered into a pact for deep sea fishing.

In the purportedletter sent in December, 2019, state Principal Secretary K R Jyothilal wanted the Centre to verify the credentials of the EMCC International, the US-based firm.

The official, in the letter, had specifically mentioned that the company was interested in innovative technology development for the upgradation and promotion of deep sea fishing in the state of Kerala.

In the letter, addressing 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 had been denied by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma for the last two days.

'They have been saying that the Chief Minister and other ministers concerned were not aware about the firm and its project. Then, how did the government send such a letter to the Centre?' he asked.

Now, all their lies had been shattered, the Leader of the Opposition said, alleging that it was such a 'big conspiracy' to deceive lakhs of fishermen in the state and plunder its marine wealth.

Not just few officials, but Fisheries Minister Mercykutty Amma and Industries Minister E P Jayarajan were the 'real culprits' in the issue, he alleged and said the Chief Minister also knew everything about the project.

He also said the MoU signed by the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) Ltd and the EMCC in the global investment meet held in Kochi last year, was only a sub-contract agreement, part of the Rs 5,000 crore mammoth project.

The opposition leader wanted the government to cancel all the contract agreements with the company.

Chennithala's demand came amid media reports that the government would cancel the company's MoU with the KSINC.

Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday had dismissed the opposition charge that the government has 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.

Vijayan had 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.'PTI LGKSS PTI PTI