Thiruvananthapuram/Kollam (Kerala) [India], February 19 (ANI): Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala on Friday alleged corruption in a Rs 5000-crore deal the Kerala government is said to have signed to open up deep-sea fishing in the Kerala waters to EMCC International Pvt. Ltd, an American multinational company.
During the Kollam stretch of his 'Aishwarya Kerala Yatra', Chennithala levelled corruption charges against fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma and industries minister E P Jayarajan of being the chief conspirators of the deep sea deal.
"The memorandum of understanding (MoU) of Rs 5000 crore project was signed at the Global Investors Meet Ascent 2020 in Kochi. The project involves fishing with 400 deep-sea trawlers, five mother fishing vessels and nets that can shift to the bottom of the sea. Supplementary agreements in this regard were signed between the Government of Kerala and EMCC International last week," he said.
Chennithala alleged that large-scale corruption has occurred behind this project.
"Minister of Fisheries J Mersykutty Amma had discussions with EMCC in New York in 2018. Following that meeting, the outline of the plan was prepared and in order to implement this plan, the Fisheries Policy was announced in 2019, with a change in the Fisheries Policy. The change in fisheries policy after the project was planned raises suspicions. The Government of Kerala has announced the Fisheries Policy in 2019," he said.
"In a letter to EP Jayarajan, Minister for Industries, EMCC stated that the MoU was entered into under paragraph 2.9 of the said policy. It is hereby made clear that the said provision was included on the basis of the meeting of the Minister of Fisheries," he added.
According to the Opposition leader, paragraph 2.9 of the Fisheries Policy says, "multi-day fishing vessels in the open sea will be encouraged to shift the current fishing pressure from the over-exploited continental shelf area to the continental slope area."
"The company was then invited to the Ascent 2020 event in Kochi and signed a memorandum of understanding there. The MoU was signed with EMCC International (India) Pvt, a subsidiary of EMCC America. This company was formed only two years ago. The capital is just Rs 10 lakh," he alleged.
"No global tenders have been called for the project. According to the agreement 400 mechanized trawlers and five mother vessels will be purchased. If this agreement come into force the livelihood of the traditional fishermen will be disrupted and the fisheries of Kerala coast will be plundered," he added.
He also demanded an enquiry in the project. (ANI)