Fisherfolk stir outside Vizhinjam port intensifies; Kerala govt says housing issue to be resolved soon

PTI | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: 16-08-2022 21:18 IST | Created: 16-08-2022 21:18 IST
Fisherfolk stir outside Vizhinjam port intensifies; Kerala govt says housing issue to be resolved soon
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As the protest by fisherfolk against the alleged neglect of their demands by the Kerala government intensified outside the under construction Vizhinjam port, state Transport Minister Antony Raju said steps were being taken to allocate land for constructing flats for those who lost their homes to the sea.

Raju said that one of the main problems being faced by a large section of the fishing community was the loss of their homes to the sea and to address that directions have been issued to allocate land by August 22 for construction of flats for them.

The objective is to provide homes without any further delay, he said while speaking to reporters here.

He also said that when the fishermen had staged protests outside the Secretariat here, the government had indicated its willingness to hold discussions with them to address their concerns.

''Actually they (fisherfolk) are facing various problems which need to be addressed in a time bound manner. In the coming days, the government will take a final decision on ensuring housing for those who lost their homes,'' the minister said.

On stopping the port construction, which is one of the demands of the protesters, Raju said the state government cannot take such a decision on its own as the Centre is also involved in the project regarding which orders were also issued by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal.

On the other hand, state Ports Minister Ahammed Devarkovil, while speaking to the media here, said that protest outside Vizhinjam port was not by persons living there, but rather by outsiders.

The comment invited a scathing attack from the Latin Archdiocese priests leading the protests with one of them alleging that such remarks were being made by the minister on the basis of favours being provided by the Adani Group.

''In which world is he living in,'' the priest further said, adding that the minister does not appear to have any clue as to what is happening in Kerala and what the fisherfolk are suffering.

During the day, the protest outside the port intensified with a huge number of protesters, primarily youngsters, arriving there wearing black clothes and carrying black flags.

One of the priests leading the protest, while speaking at the protest site, said the day was being considered as 'black day'.

Protesters were also seen trying to push away some of the barricades set up by the police several metres outside the port's main entrance, but it did not lead anywhere.

A large number of police personnel were deployed outside the port in the morning in anticipation of the protest.

Earlier in the day, Monsignor Eugine H Pereira of the Latin Archdiocese told media that the fourth phase of the protest was being held with the slogan 'Vizhinjam chalo'.

Black flags were hoisted on churches of the Latin Archdiocese in the state capital and a bike rally to the port's main entrance was also held.

The priest said the protest was not just confined to the problems being faced by members of the fishing community in Thiruvananthapuram, as those in Kollam, Alappuzha, Kochi and other coastal areas were also facing various issues, including coastal erosion.

Successive governments made various promises and announced several relief packages and projects, but either they were not properly implemented or in some places nothing happened at the ground level, the priest claimed.

Another priest of the Latin Archdiocese told reporters that the agitation was against the government's ''arrogant belief'' that they can do anything in the name of development without taking into account the plight or suffering of a section of society.

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.

Last week, hundreds of fisherfolk had taken out a massive protest rally in the state capital and laid siege to the Secretariat here with boats and fishing nets, alleging that the Left government was neglecting their demands.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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