Vizhinjam project: Latin Church to stay firm on seven demands

Rejects govt’s claim that most of their demands have been addressed; to intensify stir

Published: 03rd September 2022 07:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2022 07:04 AM   |  A+A-

Vizhinjam protest

Vizhinjam protest

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram which is leading the protest against the Vizhinjam Seaport project has decided to intensify the protest. The decision was taken at a meeting held on Friday. The meeting presided over by Archbishop Thomas J Netto, also decided to stay firm on the seven demands raised by the Church.

They also decided against shifting the protest venue from the main gate of the project site. The priests also came out against the government’s claim that most of their demands have been addressed. “There is no truth in the campaign that the government has accepted most of our demands. The government should issue orders on the decisions taken,” said a priest.

A cabinet meeting on Wednesday decided to provide Rs 5,500 every month to 335 families living in relief camps at Valiyathura to find rented accommodation till they are rehabilitated. The cabinet has decided to build flats on the land identified at Muttathara for the rehabilitation of fishers affected by coastal erosion. However, the Church demanded that the government should provide five cents of land and a house for each family in fishermen villages.

Meanwhile, the protestors breached the barricade erected by the police and entered the project site on Friday also. The police tried unsuccessfully to stop the protestors from entering the site. The work has been stopped since August 16. The High Court directed the government to provide security on a petition filed by the concessionaire of the project and the construction company. Earlier Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government would not ask the company to stop the port work.

The Church started the protest by demanding the government to stop port construction and study its ecological impact by involving coastal people, and ensure fair compensation and rehabilitation for the loss of pro  perty and houses of fishermen. The other demands included compensation for fishermen who lost work days due to adverse weather warnings, ensuring smooth navigation at Muthalapozhi harbour, providing subsidised kerosene as done in Tamil Nadu, rent-free accommodation for people who lost houses and rehabilitation of families affected by sea erosion.

The Church leaders held talks with the chief minister once and cabinet sub-committee twice to resolve the issue. However, the protestors decided to continue the stir after their demands were not met.Though the government has announced measures for rehabilitation of affected people, the talks failed to move further. The hard stance taken by both sides has reduced the scope for compromise talks. The Church has also joined party to a petition filed before the High Court and its leaders remain hopeful that the court would see merits in the protest for survival.

The protest that began with the participation of the fishermen community in front of Secretariat in the first week of August has started getting attention from other communities as well. Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha general secretary V Dinakaran and All India Imams Council extended support amid allegations that only the Church was behind the protest. Various fishermen organisations in the state extended support for the protest and raised the issue before Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman during a meeting held to discuss the rehabilitation issues, on Thursday.

India Matters


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