Express News Service
NAGERCOIL: More than 2000 fishermen families, including at least 1000 women, staged a demonstration at Colachel and took a procession to the Anna Statue, on Friday, demanding that the government should provide facilities for the families and also help them to locate their relatives.
After attending a funeral for John Davidson who is believed to be dead, the family of other fishermen and the villagers marched towards the Colachel Bus Stand to stage a protest. They were accompanied by eight parish priests. Many women who joined the protest expressed that they expect support from the government, but are being ignored.
Speaking to Express, Mary, a 47-year-old said, “I lost my 28-year-old son five years ago. He was a fisherman and the breadwinner. We did not receive any support. Now, more than 100 fishermen are lost and we will join hands to seek.”
Tony Vijay, a housewife, said, “The government initially announced Rs 4 lakh compensation and after we made a noise, they increased the amount. Similarly, injured fishermen or fishermen who are docked in the sea receive a bare minimum amount while the neighbouring government is more generous. We have to raise our voices and make a demand even for the basic facilities. We still haven’t got a solution to many of our problems.
We want to know why the search operations were not carried out immediately after the announcement of the cyclone but only after we cried for it. It was only after we asked for it were the search operations using helicopters launched. If it had been launched early enough, our families wouldn’t have lost many lives to the sea.”
Another woman who was participating in the protest said that the families of the fishermen would continue to stage protests until proper steps are taken to provide facilities for the fishermen.
Talking about this, parish priest Fr Sam Mathew said that all the fishermen were related to each other and that they would continue to protest demanding to know the status of their relatives. “Each family has lost more than six lives to the sea. At the end of the day, fishing is still their livelihood,” he said.
Officials from the district administration said that 13 mechanised boats of Tamil Nadu have not still reached the shores and are believed to be doing deep sea fishing. According to them, 66 boats are yet to be traced. 544 of the 713 fishermen in the 66 boats belong to Tamil Nadu, they said, adding that the search operations are continuing in the coast to rescue the fishermen in the sea.
To help in the search operations, Sahayaraj and Christopher from Thoothur, Prabhu from Poothurai, John Britto from Chinnathurai, Kumar from Enayam, and Nikson and Sharjan from Vallavilai have joined the coastal guards in the sea waters.
About the experience, Sahayaraj said that from 40 nauticals the guards saw a Sri Lankan fisherman. “We saw up to 150 nauticals through the radar and covered 250 nauticals. We continued the search for as long as we could. We were given food that was given to everyone and after partaking of the food, we continued the search.”