The Kerala government follows through its slew of damage control activities with the cancellation of EMCC India-KSIDC signed during ASCEND 2020. The state government had already cancelled the US Company’s deal with the Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation for manufacturing trawlers and mother ships for deep-sea fishing worth Rs 2,950 Crore. However, despite the state government’s decision, activists, coastal community members, and opposition parties had claimed that the KSINC deal was not enough, as the core agreement had been the Rs 5,000 Crore worth MoU inked between KSIDC and EMCC India.
On the other hand, Industries Minister EP Jayarajan, under whom the KSIDC exists, had refused to address the allegations and evaded media inquiry by claiming that many deals were signed during the ASCEND 2020. According to documents released by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, who had brought to fore this scam, the deal was signed on February 28, 2020, which is weeks after the investor’s meet. Moreover, the government had claimed that any deals signed during the meet had only a six-month validity. Political observers ask how a deal, which had a shelf life of six months and signed on February 2020, crossed into 2021.
On Tuesday, BJP leader V Muraleedharan, who is the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, claimed that EMCC India International is an untrustworthy company “The state government knew that the company was fraud while signing the MoU,” he asked.
According to sources, Kerala 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. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Kerala Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma reiterated the claims made by Muraleedharan. However, she adds that she is unaware of the letter that the Centre had sent to the state. While Ramesh Chennithala had demanded her resignation, she claimed that the KSINC deal was signed by its MD N Prasanth after Ramesh had started his Aiswarya Kerala Yatra and that there is a conspiracy behind it. However, KSINC is under the aegis of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The latter had asked Additional Chief Secretary TK Jose to probe into the matter, while the Opposition Leader will hold a satyagraha demanding a judicial probe. On the other hand, EMCC President Shiju Varghese dismissed the allegations against his company adding that he can submit the necessary documents whenever and wherever. He was speaking to a leading Malayalam news channel on Tuesday. “We have the necessary tax receipts and documents, and followed due process in filing and processing them. We emailed the necessary documentation to official email addresses for the MEA clearance,” he said, adding that Muraleedharan 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.