Chennithala picks holes in deal handing over deep-sea fishing to US firm

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 19 (IANS) A fresh row began on Friday after Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala slammed the Kerala Fisheries Minister J.Mercykutty for handing over deep sea fishing in the state to US firm. The minister denied the allegation.

Chennithala who is on his state-wide yatra broke the news of the “huge corrupt deal”, while speaking at Kollam, the home town of Mercykutty.

Not only did he slam the flawed policy of the Left, he also released crucial documents pertaining to the deep sea fishing deal.

Chennithala said the precious fisheries wealth of Kerala has been handed over on a platter to an US firm — Emcc, which has operations in India.

“The present Left government has inked an MoU to this effect, which first started in the US when Mercykutty was on a visit to the US in 2018. Later the project was taken forward,” said Chennithala.

He also released a letter dated February 11, 2021, of the Emcc company that was written to the State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan .

It speaks of the MoU that was inked last year between the Kerala Government and Emcc International India Pvt Ltd for the project,” Fisheries Research & Development for the up-gradation and Promotion of Deep Sea Fishing Industry” in Kerala with an outlay of Rs 5,000 crore.

“This is a company that was floated just two years back and the project was one which had no tender and I challenge Mercykutty that this is one which will sound the death knell of our fisheries sector.

“This project will see 400 trawlers and five mother ships which will be fishing in our seas. When I raised this issue, I heard her remarks that I have lost my bearings. But now everyone knows, as documents speaks the truth and all know whose bearing has gone haywire,” said Chennithala while speaking at the public meeting on Friday in the capital district outskirts.

“If Mercykutty is not convinced, I will be forced to release more documents on this deal. The State Industries Minister E.P.Jayarajan also will be in trouble. Are you not ashamed to speak to a US firm, which will finish off the hardworking fishing community of our state,” added Chennithala and said a probe is needed to find out what happened.

Mercykutty reacted by saying its unfortunate that Chennithala has lost his bearings by raising baseless allegations.

“These are nothing but baseless allegations and has no merit in it. He is speaking of an imaginary contract, as there exist no such contracts. If the Industries Department has inked any, the permission for this has to be given by the Fisheries Department. No application for this is there and no permission has been given,” said Mercykutty.

This issue is going to create lot of heartburns for Vijayan, as the upcoming assembly elections are round the corner.

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