Kochi: The Kerala High Court has raised serious doubts on the benefits from the Vizhinjam International Port coming up near Thiruvananthapuram. The much-hyped project would not benefit the state government in any way and the state would not get any revenue from the project for 40 years, the court said, citing a report from the comptroller and auditor general.
The court has asked the government to explain its position on September 25. The court made the observations while hearing a petition challenging the agreement signed by the previous United Democratic Front government with the Adani Group. The public interest litigation by M K Salim from Kollam also requests the court to call for a CBI investigation into any shady financial deal behind the agreement.
The CAG has reported that many of the provisions of the agreement were detrimental to the interests of the state. Though the operation time limit in public-private partnerships has been capped at 30 years, the UDF government raised it to 40 years, allowing the Adani Ports to take home Rs 29,217 crore extra.
A provision allowing another 20 years to the operator, rather than the usual 10 years, is also deemed illegal. The report points out that the change could mean Rs 61,095 crore additional revenue for Adani Ports.
The CAG has said that government departments should vet reports from external agencies in the case of public-private partnerships.
The report also raises a flag with regard to a provision which allows Adani Ports to collect user fee from fishermen using a harbor being built by the government at Vizhinjam. The report has asked for the agreement to be rectified.