By Nidheesh J Villatt | ENS – KOCHI
31st May 2013 12:00 PM
Kerala Fisheries Coordination Committee, local bodies and environmental groups have expressed serious concerns over the inauguration of the seaplane project in the state. V Dinakaran and V V Sasheendhran, chairman and general convener of the coordination committee said: “The government has betrayed fishing communities by backing from a promise that it will address the anxieties of fishermen.”
“We had raised our concerns in a meeting with the Fisheries and Tourism ministers on May 22. The ministers promised us that they will communicate our concerns to the Chief Minister. They also said that the project will be inaugurated only after addressing our concerns. But now, we are surprised at the pace of the inaugural process,” Dinakaran said. Sasheendhran said that fisherfolk will be eventually thrown out of their livelihood.
“Since many years, influential business groups have been systematically buying and encroaching upon areas of coastal land. Now they are eying common resources like lakes.
“A critical scrutiny of the Detailed Project Report(DPR) on the seaplane project prepared by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd gives enough hints that fisherfolk will have to put up with stringent regulatory measures for smooth operation of the private sector,” he added. T J Anjelose and T Peter, leaders of the coordination committee said that the government’s decision reflected severe neglect of the fishing community by the UDF Government.
The committee is planning to launch a token strike on Sunday. “We will intensify the struggle in the coming days. We had visited the proposed site in Alappuzha district. Hundreds of acres of land in the Vemaband lake have been earmarked for the project,” Anjelose said.
Joji Kuttumel, chairman of the Vembanad Kayal Protection Forum, said that the project can damage ecology of the lake. Deepak Dayanandan, ecologist and KSSP leader said that the authorities are violating several environmental guidelines in its urge to implement the project.
“The Vembanad Lake is a ‘Ramsar’ site and has also been notified as a Critical Vulnerable Coastal Area (CVCA) in the Coastal Regulation Zone notification, 2011. There are clear guidelines banning construction for commercial purposes,” Deepak said.
Deepa Ajithkumar and P A Jumailath, presidents of Muhamma and Mannancherry panchayats in Alappuzha said that the the State Government never consulted the local bodies regarding the project.
<p�0 s=”`�” �w�=””>Nearly 150 protesters on boats surrounded the waterdrome for four hours, shouting slogans against the seaplane project. They said the service had been flagged off in haste without conducting any environmental study on the lake.
V. Dinakaran of the All Kerala Dheevara Sabha, T.J. Anjelose of the All India Trade Union Congress, P.P. Chittaranjan of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Jackson Pollayil of the Kerala Swanthanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation and K. Pradeep of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh led the protests. The leaders asked the fishermen to go about fishing during the protest.
Mr. Anjelose said that the protest would continue till the project was abandoned.
The protesters said hundreds of inland fishermen and clam collectors would lose their livelihoods when waterdromes came up on the lake.
The houseboat owners and those in the tourism sector had, however, welcomed the seaplane service, which, they said, will boost the tourism prospects of Alappuzha.
District Collector N. Padmakumar and District Police Chief Thomson Jose were present at the waterdrome.