The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the state government to provide police protection to Adani Ports' under construction Vizhinjam port project, which is facing protests.
The court also directed that necessary steps shall be taken to seek appropriate assistance from the central government, in case if the state government is unable to see that law and order is maintained in the locality.
The order came on a plea moved by Adani Ports, which is constructing the Vizhinjam port in Thiruvananthapuram, seeking protection from protesters and alleging that the police and the government were not taking any action in this regard.
In the order, Justice Anu Sivaraman directed the state government to ensure that necessary police protection is granted to the petitioners to carry out the activities permitted in accordance with the contracts entered into by them with the project proponent.
"All necessary protection for providing free ingress and egress to such persons for carrying out the necessary activities in connection with the project shall be afforded by the police", the court said.
The court also directed that the protesters should not trespass into the port premises and that they should agitate peacefully outside it.
"This Court has time and again considered the issue of competing interests in the matter of grant of police protection and has held that a right to protest can only mean a right to protest peacefully and there can be no right to obstruct the legally permitted project or activity in the guise of a protest whatever be the reason for the protest", the order said.
A representative of the protesters said the order was only an interim one. He said that Adani's claims that protestors obstructed work was "baseless" as construction work was already put on hold due to adverse weather conditions.
The protesters also said they would continue their agitation peacefully till their demands are met.
A number of people have been staging strong protest outside the main entrance of the multi-purpose seaport, located at nearby Mulloor in Thiruvananthapuram, since August 16 pressing their seven-point charter of demands including stopping the construction work and to conduct a coastal impact study in connection with the multi-crore project.
The protesters have been alleging that the unscientific construction of groynes, the artificial sea walls known as "pulimutt' in local parlance, as part of the upcoming Vizhinjam port was one of the reasons for the increasing coastal erosion in the district.
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