Wednesday, August 27

A Dream called Vizhinjam

I chanced on an article called Vizhinjam 2050, and liked it. It was posted on Trivandrum Rising, where Ajay (author) has imagined a rosy scenario for Vizhinjam Seaport by year 2050. In fact, I am really impressed by the research he has done for the article and also his concepts which are radical yet seems to be ideal solutions. 
ON his post, Ajay talks about Vizhijam Seaport in Kerala becoming one of the most busy seaports in South east Asia by 2030 and how de congestion of this sea port by using Kollam and Kolechal ports will help Vizhijam becoming the leading transhipment port by 2050. 
He also talks about other innovations that can turn advantageous to Vizhinjam, although most of his views seems very radical now, they might be the rules that change the game in 2030. Check out his post here at TVM Rising
I liked the post and wrote a small comment which then went on to be a post in itself. here it goes:
I really wish Vizhijam grows into such a great port, at least become an important port for India by 2020. Vizhijam nevertheless is bestowed with natural advantages like a very deep sea floor and other locational advantages like being close to international sea routes.  

But there are problems that are centric only to Kerala. Its thickly populated geography and a highly politically aware society. Kerala has always faced the problems of a powerful leftist political liking and also a very high resistance to change and to accept change. 

On the Tangaserri Port:

It was initially touted as a major achievement by the state goverment, when the central government gave approval for the port. It was inaugurated with much fan fare and zero infrastructure. Suddenly a sleepy fishing harbor was being touted as a international sea port. It was inaugurated without even having a road that can bring in a multiple axle trailer truck, let alone turn it.!!!!!!!!
My home is just a km from the said site and during my last vacation , dad said, the port  haven't taken off due to protest from near by fishermen and also public in general. They don't want trucks moving around with containers, will loose sleep, you know!!

I could just laugh.. what else can be said..But then they shouldn't have even thought of that place as a port, its so thickly populated, Government wont be able to acquire land for a four way access road, let alone hinterland for cargo. 

On Vizhinjam Port:
1. If it even grows to become half the size of JNPT, then the tourist centers of Kovalam and even Varkala could be destroyed.
The environmental impact might be very large and much more noticeable in a state like kerala. But if we look at the economic gains, then certainly a huge port can bring in 100 times more revenue than Kovalam, so we can sweetly ignore that issue.

2. If at all Vizhinjam grows to big, then feeder terminals at 100 km vicinity becomes viable.

In Such a scenario, Kolachel and Tangaserri ports will be important for vizhinyam port's long term success, . As the business plan is based on ships with more than 10m depth, dedicated rail /road corridors into vizhinjam port's  massive hinterland stretching upto kollam and kolachel will be required. These corridors will be critical in de-congesting vizhinjam, ideally all feeder ships should dock only in kollam and Kolechel, and transhipment happens through the corridor. 
The Kerala Challenge:
Such a huge port, means it will engulf the entire districts or Kollam and Trivandrum, let alone parts of Tamil-Nadu. Supply chain demands will require the major container managers including the government owned CONCOR to acquire massive tracks of land in the thickly populated areas of Trivandrum and Kollam, land tracks of minimum 500 acres each.

Will our LDF or UDF goverments bite the bullet to help build such a port by relocating lakhs of people?

Bigger challenge will be the change in lifestyle, the relaxed malayali having tender coconut and discussing international politics at the bedi kada will suddenly be surrounded by super huge cranes, trucks and aggressive people..

Companies and contractors who wont heed to nota kuli, and our poor atimari thoyulali will have to start working in a port that runs on delivery efficency, not votebank.

As the current revenue sources for labor community "so called vote bank dries up" ( there wont be much cocunut trees to climb or individual houses being build or small markets), they will inevitably have to take up jobs with the port and allied industries which wont give them the current liberties like 80 + hartals an year.

So the underlying fact is, none of the left wing political parties will be really interested in effecting this change, as it will nullify the reasons for thier very own exsistence.
Words from a Former Communist "SaKhav"
Some time back, my very senior uncle said, Communism and marxism thrives only in the land of poor (economicall backward and poverty ridden regions). As people grow up the value chain, their association and liking for communism also reduces. Well there are a few idiots (so called idealist) and another few cunning ( pro communist industrialist) that exsist for very obvious reasons.

If Vizhinjam works, I will be a billionaire, if it doesnt, I am still a Billionaire ( how many in this world can afford a a month vacation to the prestine beaches and back waters of kerala, let alone own a lake front villa, a buch of coconut or rubber trees, and let the paddy fields lie barren, for the migratory birds to come a nest, all through november, year after year. 

Somewhere, a Selfish me says, Kerala should remain the way it is now, be it  80 or 100 hartals, there shouldnt be industrialisation. its beaches and lakes should remain sparkling. The sky always blue.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia, Jaxer, googlemaps