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Vizhinjam port will give competition to other container ports: SNC chief

Kochi: Amidst the violent protests against the under-construction Vizhinjam seaport at Thiruvananthapuram, Southern Naval Command (SNC) chief Vice Admiral M A Hampiholi on Wednesday said the port will give competition to major container ports at Dubai and Colombo, and earn the country a lot of revenue.

The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the SNC, while addressing media on board INS Tir at the naval base here, said the Vizhinjam port is something that would generate revenue for the country as a component of the blue economy.

He said the fishermen have a right to claim compensation for the loss of their livelihood and hoped that the governments will take a considerate stand.

“At Vizhinjam, the port will give a competition to container ports at Dubai and Colombo and earn us a lot of revenue. That’s the aim, I understand. The fishermen also have a right to claim compensation for the loss of their livelihood and I think the matter is sub-judice,” the Navy officer said.

“The government will, of course, take a considerate position. From the country’s perspective, it is something which would generate revenue as a component of the blue economy and under the overall ambit of making the country richer,” Hampiholi said.

Fisherfolk of Vizhinjam and other coastal areas have been protesting for more than four months against the under-construction seaport, and also led to violence on November 26 and 27.

Two months after a new aircraft carrier was added to India’s maritime fleet, Hampiholi said the Navy had always projected the need for a three carrier requirement.

The Vice Admiral, when asked about it, said the Cochin Shipyard has proven that it was capable of constructing the country’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier.

“The INS Vikrant gave direct employment for 2,000 people and over 3,000 were employed indirectly or through auxiliary industries. The aircraft carrier also supports the MSMEs in the country. For Vikrant, we gave Rs 292 crore to various MSMEs for various components,” he said.

Indigenously-built INS Vikrant, which was dedicated to the nation on September 2 and was docked at the shipyard here, has sailed out on Tuesday for further sea trials, according to the Navy.

Hampiholi said the aircraft operations on an aircraft carrier were not new to the Indian Navy.

“Vikrant has just sailed out yesterday. Already, the trials are in progress. In the next four to five months, we plan to integrate all helicopters and the fighters on Vikrant. This will take four to five months. Aircraft operations are not new to us. We have over 60 years of experience with aircraft carriers,” he said.

He said the Navy was going forward in a careful, deliberate and correct manner.

“We are looking at carrying out trials of all landing facilities on board… We have dedicated teams looking after that under various conditions. But for a fighter aircraft to land on a moving platform and land within 100-120 metres from a speed of almost over 200 kms per hour to zero within four to five seconds… there is a kind of complexity involved,” he said.

The Navy will first carry out the trials of the equipment and then conduct modified trials with aircraft under various wind conditions and with various loads of aircraft, he added.

Hampiholi also said that the country was short of submarines.

“However, we are aware that we have a Project 75 India. It’s an acquisition project for Scorpion-class submarines. We are talking of a strategic partnership modelling,” he said.

The SNC chief said the two firms — Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) and L&T — have partnership with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for certain aspects of design but it will be made in India.

He added that, however, this was yet to be ratified by the Ministry of Defence.

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