Kerala capital brought to standstill as fishermen call for govt actiontext_fields
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Wednesday, hundreds of fishermen staged a large demonstration in the capital and surrounded the Secretariat with boats and fishing nets to demand that the state government act quickly to address a number of issues, including coastline erosion in the region. The demonstration, which saw protesters chanting that the administration had disregarded their requests, brought the city to a standstill for several hours.
The Latin Archdiocese backed the district-wide protest march organised by fishermen from several coastal communities against the coastal erosion brought on by the building of the Vizhinjam port. As the protesters transported fishing boats on trucks to numerous locations, including Thiruvallam, Pettah, General Hospital Junction, and Enchakkal on NH 66 bypass junction, city traffic went haywire. Several priests led the community of fishermen, including women, who arrived from several nearby coastal hamlets. They blocked busy roads for several hours while giving out anti-government slogans.
Tension persisted in the city for hours as the police sought to stop demonstrators from continuing at Shankumukham, Enchakkal, Pettah, and General Hospital. The fishermen reacted furiously in several locations when the motor vehicles department personnel attempted to ban them from transporting large boats that were fastened to vehicles. There was reportedly a little incident between the police and the fishermen. The fishermen did not request permission from the police in advance for the Secretariat march, according to the police, who said that they were not allowed to protest with boats. But eventually, the police had to release them.
Then, fishermen marched from the Museum to the Secretariat while pulling their boats. Then, on MG Road, the ladies and fishermen surrounded the Secretariat. Traffic stalled at Vellayambalam, East Fort, and Palayam as a result. Many drivers relied on byroads to go where they needed to go. As a precaution, the police had closed one side of MG Road as of 11 am. But the demonstrators surrounded the spot and blocked the entire route for more than four hours. All of the Latin Archdiocese's notable priests, including previous Archbishop Soosapakiam, showed up at the protest site to show support for the demonstrators.
The demands made by the coastal residents included fixing the coastal erosion allegedly brought on by the building of the Vizhinjam port, ensuring job rehabilitation for those who lost their jobs as a result of the port project, ensuring safety in areas where there is a constant danger, and lowering the cost of kerosene for fishermen.
They looked for a long-term solution because the erosion of the coastline during the monsoon season accelerates and more properties are being lost. Furthermore, they asserted that the government had not yet provided them with any guarantees.
Kerosene costs Rs 125 per litre in Kerala as opposed to Rs 25 in Tamil Nadu. The demonstrators claim that this is having an impact on fishermen's lives. Thorough research needs to be undertaken for the project and the protesters demanded that the building of the Vizhinjam port be put on hold till then, according to the NIE.
A female protestor claims that the government is doing nothing to stop the terrible coastal erosion that has been going on for years. They said that 500 homes had been destroyed in a number of coastal hamlets and urged the government to move promptly to aid the families who had lost their homes.
Another fisherman asserted that hundreds of families, including his own, have spent the last four years living in government godowns after having their homes destroyed by strong waves and coastal erosion. He added that the protest was only symbolic and would become more serious if the government did not heed the fishermen's requests.