Vizhinjam stir: Kerala govt agrees to talks with fisherfolk

Kerala government. Photo: Manorama
Kerala government. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Thursday agreed to talks with the fisherfolk who are protesting outside Vizhinjam port over various livelihood issues.

Latin Archdiocese, which spearheads the agitation, has informed that it accepts the government's invitation to talks.

State Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman is in Delhi to attend a meeting of central and state-level officials to discuss the problems of fishermen and coastal areas in Kerala.

The date for discussions will be set on his return, the government informed. Abdurahiman has also clarified that the state will not take any step which would harm the interests of the fisherfolk.

The protesters reiterated that they will not withdraw their agitation until their demands are met and without that happening, no ship would be able to berth at the Vizhinjam port.

The state government, in an attempt to placate the protestors, had said that steps are being taken to allocate land for construction of flats to rehabilitate those fisherfolk who lost homes to the sea.

However, these conciliatory efforts have not proved sufficient to convince the fisherfolk to withdraw from the protests outside the port's main entrance.

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.

On Thursday, Congress-led UDF threw its weight behind the protest saying this would be the first issue they raise when the state assembly session convenes next week.

Opposition leader VD Satheesan said that several square kilometres of coastal land in the state capital have been encroached upon by the sea and urged for a comprehensive and long-term solution to the problem.

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