With Kerala facing another flood fury a year after the August deluge of 2018, 'Kerala's own navy', the fisher folk, is into action once again – this time in a more coordinated manner.
In a smart move, the Kerala government has included fishermen in the rescue teams functioning in control rooms set up in all 14 districts. The fishermen will be headed by the members of the Sea Rescue Squad, a group of fishermen who were imparted special training in rescue operations.
Training was given to the fishermen who had taken part in the rescue operations during the floods last year at the National Institute of Water Sports in Goa.
There are 317 certified members in the Sea Rescue Squad. Of them, the government has roped in 272 fishermen to work in coordination with the district control rooms as of Friday morning, a senior official in the state fisheries department told Onmanorama.
As many as 63 members of the squad were deployed in affected areas and the remaining are all set to brave the floodwaters when the need arises. Apart from the squad, the control rooms have sought the help of 311 ordinary fishermen also. Of them, 133 were deployed.
The department had arranged 194 boats, all owned by fishermen, for rescue operations. Of these, 55 were deployed in affected areas.
The fishermen have rescued 192 people from various flood-hit areas across the state.
Officials said fishermen across the state have already conveyed their willingness to take part in the rescue operations as and when the need arises.
In Ernakulam district, fishermen are camping in control rooms along with officials of fisheries and motor vehicle departments. “We have already deployed 20 boats in Aluva, Paravur and Eloor areas,” Charles George, president of Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Union, told Onmanorama. He was busy coordinating the operations when Onmanorama contacted him.
He said more boats will be arranged from Vypeen, Chellanam and Kannamali on Saturday. They are also trying to arrange some containers from Vallarpadom to transport huge boats to affected areas.
Rain continued to wreak havoc in Kerala for the second consecutive day on Friday. Over 23,000 people have been moved to relief camps.
Last year, fishermen had carried out rescue operations even at places where the disaster management team could not reach. Around 4,500 fishermen had saved over 65,000 lives during the floods.