Soon after Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala furnished evidence of Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma meeting with EMCC India in the USA and Kerala, the minister interacted with the media to address the matter. She told reporters that while she might have met with the company executives, there was no discussion on the deep-sea fishing project.
However, when the first allegations emerged, the minister had claimed that neither has she not met with anyone nor did she know anything about the project. In the latest press meet, she admitted that she “might have met” with them in New York, and she saw them in Kerala but did not discuss the project.
Meanwhile, the documents furnished by the Opposition Leader notes that EMCC India wrote a letter to Industries Minister EP Jayarajan referring to their “meeting” and “discussion” with the Fisheries Minister in New York for the deep-sea fishing project. They also added a concept note, as well as a deal with KSINC for manufacturing trawlers within the state.
Moreover, the minister read out the relevant sections as referred to by Ramesh Chennithala in his allegations and maintained that regardless of agreements, the government cannot hand over deep-sea fishing to private entities as it is entitled to fishermen. Addressing the allegations, EMCC India Director Shibu Varghese maintained that there has been no corruption, as they plan to engage the local fisherfolk for deep-sea fishing. Moreover, their deal with KSINC is only limited to the manufacturing of trawlers and boats.
However, addressing the allegations, Mercykutty Amma has told Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that neither she nor her department has anything to do with the alleged “agreement” that has been entered into with EMCC India during the ASCEND 2020 investor’s meet. According to the documents, the company signed an MoU with EMCC India on February 28, 2020, with an outlay of Rs 5,000 crore. The Fisheries Minister alleged that certain officers had done so with specific political intentions. “I cannot be held responsible for the actions of that particular officer, and just because he/she signed an MoU doesn’t mean that the plan will come to fruition,” Mercykutty Amma told reporters, adding that such a deal is contrary to the policy.
Meanwhile, members of the coastal communities have decided to organise a hartal on February 27 against the government’s alleged contract with the company. They will also block the KSINC office on February 22, and organise a march to Mercykutty Amma’s official residence in Kollam in the evening. The coastal communities alleged that the government entered into such a controversial deal while the communities are facing a severe shortage of fishes.