In December 2015, Oommen Chandy, then chief minister of Kerala and a member of the Congress party, laid the foundation stone for the R7,525 crore Vizhinjam International Port project, a deepwater multipurpose seaport in Thiruvananthapuram district. It is being built under a public-private partnership model with Adani Ports. The agreement allows the Adani Group to operate the port for 40 years, with a provision to extend it for another 20 years, after which it is to be handed over to the Kerala government. Construction of the port began in 2015.
The main argument of the proponents of the project is that by making Vizhinjam a hub for cargo operations in the Indian subcontinent, a major part of transhipment traffic can be attracted there, allowing it to compete with ports in Colombo, Singapore and Dubai. A transhipment port is an intermediary port where transfer of cargo takes place from one ship to another, before it moves to a final destination. “The seaport will be a game changer as it will wean away a lion’s share of Indian transhipment cargo, now being handled at Colombo port,” Jayakumar, the chief executive officer of Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited, set up by the Kerala government, said.
The Adani group has claimed that this project will boost the economy. Its supporters have also claimed that it will generate significant employment and could turn the nearby Thiruvananthapuram into a city like Dubai or Singapore. Both the mainstream media and political leaders have pushed this narrative.