THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Consoling and reassuring the fisherfolk who have lost their near and dear ones in the Ockhi cyclone that hit the southern coast of Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday assured them of bringing back all fishermen who have been stranded in the sea before Christmas. In an atmosphere charged with emotion, the wailing fisherwomen, who lost their near and dear ones, aired their protest and complaints before the Prime Minister.
After giving a patient hearing to nearly a dozen fisherwomen and the representatives of the fish workers and the Church leaders, including Archbishop Soosa Pakiam, the Prime Minister said the Navy and Coast Guard vessels would continue to step up surveillance to rescue the remaining fishermen. Also, efforts would continue to recover the bodies of those who have died in the cyclone.
The Prime Minister said, immediately after the cyclone hit the Kerala coast, he had ordered to deploy the Naval and Coast Guard vessels to engage in rescue operations. “Immediately after the cyclone hit the Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep coasts, I asked the Defence Minister to take an overview of the situation and console the affected people. Navy and Coast Guard vessels were deployed to intensify rescue work. Some of the fishermen had even reached the western coast of Gujarat and Maharashtra. From Gujarat coast alone, 400 fish workers were rescued,” he said.
In an emotion charged atmosphere, Modi said the entire country would be with them. “The entire country is with you. This government is with you in this hour of crisis. I am here to share your sorrow and join hands with you in rescue and rehabilitation efforts. As per the prevailing norms, the Centre would provide all possible assistance to the affected families,” he said.
Union Minister of Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam translated the fisherwoman’s woes to the Prime Minister. They complained to the Prime Minister the government machinery failed to start the rescue work in time. “Had the rescue operations been intensified within three days of the cyclone almost all persons stuck in the sea could have been rescued,” they told the Prime Minister. They wanted him to rescue all the remaining fishermen stranded in the sea. They also called for setting up a fishing harbour at Poonthura and government jobs for one of the family members of the victims.
Modi, who patiently listened to their complaints for over 15 minutes, spoke to over a dozen fisherwomen, fish workers’ representatives and Church leaders. Modi, who arrived at the Community Hall , Poonthura, by 4.47 pm accompanied by Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, ministers E Chandrasekharan, Mercykutty Amma and Kadakampally Surendran spent over 20 minutes before leaving for the review meeting at the Government Guest House. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, national executive members V Muralidharan, P K Krishnadas, MLAs V S Sivakumar and O Rajagopal accompanied him.
However, after the Prime Minister left for the the review meeting, some of the fisherwomen raised protests they were not heard though they had been waiting for more than three hours. National Fish Workers Forum leader T Peter said they had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister asking for setting up a fishing harbour at Poonthura, an exclusive Fisheries Ministry and a government job for at least one member of the families of the victims.Guv, CM receive
Modi at airport
T’Puram: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived at the technical area of the T’Puram International Airport, was received by Governor P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He flew here from Lakshadweep, where cyclone had hit badly. Apart from the Governor and Chief Minister, Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Mayor V K Prasanth, Suresh Gopi MP, MLAs O Rajagopal and V S Sivakumar, welcomed him.