KOCHI, India, Nov 28 (Reuters) – More than 80 people were injured in southern India when villagers blocking construction of a $900 million port clashed with police, in the latest escalation of months-long protest by a mostly Christian fishing community against Asians. richest man.
The protests are a huge headache for Gautam Adani Ports and Logistics, a $23 billion company that has been forced to halt work at the Vizhinjam seaport, which is seen as winning business from rivals in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
However, construction was halted for more than three months after villagers blocked the entrance to the site, blaming the port for causing coastal erosion and depriving them of their livelihoods.
Over the weekend, police arrested several protesters after they prevented Al-Adani’s construction vehicles from entering the port, despite a court order to resume work.
The arrests prompted hundreds of protesters, led by Catholic priests, to march on the police station and clash with individuals and damage cars there, according to police documents and videos broadcast on local television.
Ajith Kumar, a senior local police official, told Reuters that 36 officers were injured in the clashes. Joseph Johnson, one of the protest leaders, said at least 46 demonstrators were also injured.
Located on the southern tip of India, the port seeks access to lucrative east-west trade routes, adding to the global reach of the business spearheaded by billionaire Adani, who is ranked by Forbes as the world’s third richest man.
Asked about the latest protest, El-Adani’s group did not immediately comment. The company said the port complies with all laws and cited studies that show it is not linked to coastal erosion. The state government also said that any erosion was due to natural causes.
FACTBOX – India’s major industrial disputes Read more
The protests continued despite repeated orders from the Kerala High Court to allow construction to begin. The police were largely unwilling to take any action, lest it lead to social and religious tensions.
In the recent clashes, police documents stated that the demonstrators “came with deadly weapons and stormed the center and held the police hostage, threatening to set fire to the center if the detainees were not released.” Eugene H. Pereira, the diocese’s attorney general and protest leader, said police stoned protesters.
The port protests recall the backlash Adani faced in Australia over the Carmichael coal mine. There, activists concerned about carbon emissions and damage to the Great Barrier Reef forced the Adani to scale back production targets and delay the mine’s first shipment of coal by six years.
Written by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Meral Fahmy
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”