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Thottiyadu is barely 55 km from Vizhinjam, the site of an upcoming port in Kerala. The port is coming up at a cost of Rs 7525 crore and is owned by the Kerala government and Adani Group. Vizhinjam sparked a controversy in Kerala owing to its environmental impact. While the issue has settled down there, the port continued to draw concerns in Tamil Nadu since massive boulders needed for the port were planned to be quarried from Kanyakumari and taken through boats. After protests by fishermen and members of the public, the quarrying has been given up. It is now planned that boulders will be quarried from Pattanamthitta in Kerala.

Due to mounting opposition in Kanyakumari, the fisheries department announced a public hearing on June 6. “We were opposed to even the holding of the public hearing,” says Stanley Cosmic Sundar, lawyer and environmental enthusiast.

The environmental assessment report of Vizhinjam had said that the big boulders required for Vizhinjam would come from Kadavilai in Kerala and Thottiyodu and Deviyodu near Nagercoil. The quarry site is of area 400 acres and is filled with coconut and neem trees. From there, the boulders were to be transported to Colachel that is 17 km away by road, then by boats to Vizhinjam.

The project proponents sought to use the Thengaipattinam fishing harbor since it was closer. “The fishing harbor did not have the depth to handle boats loaded with boulders. The Adani Group sought to promise fishermen that they would deepen the harbor but the fishermen didn’t buy into the deal, says Cosmic Sundar.

Concurring with this, Kurumpanai Berlin of the Neythal People’s Movement says: “We were told that some 40 lakh tons of bounders were to be taken from here. This would have destroyed the ecology of much of the western ghats in Kanyakumari,” he adds. The boat transport would have resulted in congestion of the harbor. Deepening the harbor would have worsened the sea erosion in nearby areas.

When faced with protests, project executors held talks with the administration. A project official who didn’t wish to be identified said: “We requested that the boulders be allowed to be transported to Vizhinjam but permission was refused. We have decided to use the government quarry in Pattanamthitta. This pushes up the project costs.”

The project proponents sought to use the Thengaipattinam fishing harbor since it was closer. “The fishing harbor did not have the depth to handle boats loaded with boulders.

The Adani Group sought to promise fishermen that they would deepen the harbor but the fishermen didn’t buy into the deal, says Cosmic Sundar.

Concurring with this, Kurumpanai Berlin of the Neythal People’s Movement says: “We were told that some 40 lakh tons of bounders were to be taken from here. This would have destroyed the ecology of much of the western ghats in Kanyakumari,” he adds. The boat transport would have resulted in congestion of the harbor. Deepening the harbor would have worsened the sea erosion in nearby areas.

When faced with protests, project executors held talks with the administration. A project official who didn’t wish to be identified: “We requested that the boulders be allowed to be transported to Vizhinjam but permission was refused. We have decided to use the government quarry in Pattanamthitta. This pushes up the project costs.”

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