THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The severe cyclonic storm Ockhi that hit the state on November 30, 2017, had left a trail of destruction in its wake in the coastal areas.
Two years after, the fishers say the state government has not kept its word in reaching out to the victims. They point out that a comprehensive special package announced by the state government a year ago for the overall development of the Ockhi-affected fisherfolk was also in limbo. As per records, 143 fishermen were reported either dead or missing in the cyclone.
“The fisher community is observing the second anniversary of Ockhi. Barring the financial assistance to the families of the deceased and missing fishermen, the intervention of the state government among the Ockhi-affected, people has not been satisfactory,” says Jackson Pollayil, state president, Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation.
According to him, the laxity in the implementation of the comprehensive special package shows the government’s apathy towards alleviating the hardships of the victims.
In March, 2018, the Fisheries Department had constituted an 11-member committee headed by the former chief secretary and Centre for Management Development chairman S M Vijayanand for drawing up a special package for the Ockhi victims.
On the recommendation of the committee, the department in June, 2018, entrusted the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) with carrying out studies and consultancy firm KPMG with preparing a detailed project report (DPR). Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma says, “A delay is there. First, the department delayed in awarding the works to the agencies concerned. The agencies are now behind schedule. But the government is not waiting for the report. Assistance is being provided for coastal protection and housing projects through KIIFB and Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.”
Meanwhile, committee chairman Vijayanand told TNIE that it being a long-term programme, the report could be submitted in a phased manner. The first is expected to be submitted by January.
“The TISS which has been entrusted with the studies on basic human needs, coastal infrastructure, human development self-help groups and disaster management is expected to submit its report soon.” said Vijayanand.
State of affairs
Cyclone Ockhi battered the coastal areas of the state on November 30, 2017
143 fishermen reported dead or missing in the cyclone
384 fishing vessels, 446 fishing nets and 532 houses damaged
367 fishermen suffered complete or partial loss of their fishing gear
The government declared a D2,000-crore comprehensive special package for the overall development of the Ockhi affected fishers in March
The government-appointed IRMA and TISS to carry out various studies and KPMG to prepare DPR
As per data available with the Fisheries Department, about 50 fishermen from Thiruvananthapuram alone had died in the cyclone