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Gangavaram port not a security threat to Navy: AP government

Written by: Staff
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Visakhapatnam, Apr 14 (UNI) The Andhra Pradesh government today denied reports that the private sector Gangavaram Port near the city, being developed by a Dubai-based consortium of companies, posed any security threat to the Eastern Naval Command headquarters.

Denying reports that the development of the private port might be a security threat to naval establishments here, Commercial Tax Minister K Ramakrishna said due clearances had been obtained by the Defence Ministry, which did not have any objection to the port.

Its construction has already raked up a controversy, with fishermen of Gangavaram village accusing the government of not providing a proper relief and rehabilitation package.

Speaking to reporters here tonight, the Minister dismissed fears expressed by former Naval Chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagat, while speaking to a private news channel, that the port may cause problems to ENC headquarters. He had asked if all necessary clearances had been got.

He said the Dubai Ports Works, which had attracted protests in the United States for trying to take over New York Port, was in no way involved in the consortium of companies as it had withdrawn from the conglomerate developing the Rs 2000 crore port.

''The former Naval Chief may not know the ground realities. All necessary clearances have been obtained. There is no security threat and the Indian Navy has not raised any such questions. There is no problem on the environmental side also as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has given necessary environmental clearance''the minister said.

Meanwhile, he appealed to leaders of the Gangavaram Fishermen's Forum, spearheading the fishermen's agitation, to drop the idea of forcibly stalling work going on in the port tomorrow as announced by them yesterday. He invited the forum leaders for another round of talks to arrive at a consensus on the rehabilitation package.

A similar call resulted in violence on March 27, when fishermen fought a pitched battle with police, leading to one of them dying in police firing and injuries to several, including police.

CITU state president Ch Narasinga Rao, who is leading an all-party forum supporting the agitating fishermen, reiterated the fishermen's resolve to stop the work at the port tomorrow morning.

''We will stall work at the port until the state government comes up with a comprehensive package to the 3200-odd families of this trouble-torn village who would be seriously affected due to the construction of port. We appeal to the government to stop the work immediately. Otherwise it will be held responsible for whatever happens tomorrow,'' he warned.

Mr Ramakrishna was firm on thwarting the fishermen's bid to stop the work. He said police security would be in place in the village tomorrow. The number of police to be deployed would depend on the situation. If it turned serious more police would be rushed to maintain peace in the area, he added.

UNI RS SB BST2150

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