After Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala released evidence to the deep-sea fishing deals between the Kerala government and US-based EMCC International, the state administration had no choice but to renege on the deal following public outrage. However, the latest information reveals that while the deals between EMCC India and Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation had been cancelled, the MoU with Kerala State Industries Development Corporation still stands.
Industries Minister EP Jayarajan, under whom KSIDC operates, had called a press meeting to claim that an instruction had been given on February 24 to cancel the deal and the same was done on February 26. The information was intimated through the Industries Department press letter published on the official website. However, experts claim that unless the government intimates the cancellation through an official government order, there is no legal stand to the “cancellation”.
On the other hand, the KSINC deal — for manufacturing over 400 deep-sea fishing trawlers — was cancelled through a government order — GO (Ms) No.02/2021/CSIND dated 22/02/2021 — on February 22. “The government believes that they can continue to trick the people, especially the fisherfolk, by making false claims,” said Ramesh Chennithala, adding, “The government is yet to cancel the main agreement as they want to continue after getting back into power. This indicates that large amounts of bribes have exchanged hands in this sale of livelihood of the coastal communities.”
The KSIDC-EMCC deal worth Rs 5,324 Crore allows the latter access to land in Pallipuram Mega Food Park where the American company would have established a food processing plant. Moreover, this is the mother deal, which means that the cancellation of the KSINC deal, which mentions that it follows the KSIDC deal with government knowledge, will mean nothing as long as the KSIDC deal stands. In simple terms, as long as the KSIDC deal exists, KSINC can sign another MoU with the company.
Moreover, Ramesh claimed that the KSIDC-EMCC agreement had been signed with the decision of an empowered committee of the Secretaries. “The release details that the agreement has been signed by the government following the knowledge of the state’s highest policy-making committee. The same ministers, who had sworn to uphold their integrity, had earlier claimed that they knew nothing of the deal. It seems they were lying,” he added.