Deep Sea Fishing Controversy: Kerala Govt Cancels MoU With EMCC

By SM .22 Feb, 2021




THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government on Monday decided to cancel the controversial Memorandum of Understanding signed between US-based EMCC International and the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC), against which the opposition has raised serious allegations.


Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed the officials concerned to cancel the deal and probe the circumstances under which such an MoU was signed, a source in the government told PTI.


The step was taken reportedly to avoid further controversies, with the opposition leveling fresh charges and bringing out what they term as "evidence" almost every day.


KSINC Managing Director N Prasanth and EMCC International India Private Limited president 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.


However, the CM on Saturday 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.


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 letter to the Centre, requesting to verify the credentials of the EMCC.


In the purported letter sent in December 2019, state Principal Secretary KR Jyothilalhad 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, 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 CM Pinarayi 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.