Vizhinjam: Little Village, Big Harbour

Vizhinjam is a village about 3km south of Kovalam beach. It is home to about 10,000 people, most of them involved in the fishing trade (with the poverty that that implies).

On the northern side of the harbour is the Muslim settlement with a mosque and school. On the other side is the Catholic part of the village with the Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. The two halves exist in an uneasy state of tolerance that occasionally breaks out into riots.

For somewhere this small, Vizhinjam has featured rather prominently in the national press over the past few years.

And the reason? Well, Vizhinjam’s harbour is large, deep (24m) and extremely accessible. And therefore rather desirable when it came to looking at sites for a new container harbour. If/when the project goes ahead, it will bring much-needed investment: new roads, rail links and new jobs.

Discussions have rumbled on for years, but the smart money says that work will begin this year, shortly before the Kerala assembly elections in May 2011. ’twas ever thus.

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