BJP leader V Muraleedharan, who is the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, has come aboard the deep-sea fishing row in Kerala and claimed that EMCC India International is an untrustworthy company, adding that their address is merely virtual. “The government knew that the company was fraud while signing the Memorandum of Understanding, and who gave the state government permission to sign the deal,” Muraleedharan asked.
According to sources, Principal Secretary KR Jyothilal had written to the Joint Secretary of the External Affairs Ministry on October 3, 2019, asking to verify the credential of EMCC India and its address since the company had submitted a concept note for deep-sea fishing. According to Muraleedharan, the Joint Secretary had written to the Indian Embassy in New York looking for the company’s credentials, and on October 21, 2019, the embassy replied.
“In their reply, the New York consulate general claimed that the company’s address is virtual, in the sense that the address had been provided for the purpose of having an address. The same information was communicated to the authorities in Kerala, which they possessed while signing the deal during the ASCEND 2020,” said Muraleedharan. He added that the Kerala government couldn’t claim ignorance when it comes to the deal, especially when there is a proper paper trail in place. He claimed that the project would severely affect the local fishing communities in the state.
However, EMCC President Shiju Varghese dismissed the allegations adding that the company can submit the necessary documents whenever and wherever. He was speaking to a leading Malayalam news channel. “We have the necessary tax receipts and documents, and followed due process in filing and processing them. We emailed the complete necessary documentation to the official email addresses, for the MEA clearance,” he said, adding that the minister is looking for political traction. “I met with V Muraleedharan while the latter was in New York. We talked in detail about the project, and he claimed that it was a good project,” he said that if the minister doesn’t take back the allegations, then the company will be forced to follow with legal action.
Meanwhile, Industries Minister EP Jayarajan failed to address the matter properly. While he was asked about signing the deal with EMCC during the ASCEND 2020, the minister claimed that hundreds of deals come through and they have to scrutinise every one of them. However, he fails to explain how they signed the deal and why it is yet to be cancelled. “The aim of the media is to controversy, and it is not useful to the state. The state government aims to encourage investors and develop its industries, but the media does not want it,” he said angrily while evading most questions regarding the deal with EMCC.