Fisherfolk, kin take to streets in Kanniyakumari
Train services affected as protesters block tracks; Chief Minister announces enhanced relief package, including solatium of ₹10 lakh, for the kin of the deceased
Angry over alleged lack of efforts to rescue Ockhi-hit fishermen, thousands of villagers of fishing hamlets staged a massive road-cum-rail roko agitation in Kanniyakumari district the whole of Thursday. Later in the evening, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami announced a series of measures to mitigate their hardship. He also announced enhancement of solatium for the kin of the deceased fishermen to ₹10 lakh (from ₹4 lakh), including ₹2 lakh insurance to the families.
Earlier in the day, District Collector Sajjansingh R. Chavan held talks with the protesters. However, the fisher folk, who had trekked long distances since the morning and blocked train movement in Kulithurai railway station, refused to relent.
They demanded intense search operations by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard in the deep seas to locate the fishermen who are missing even after several days of the cyclone.
They alleged that the searches were conducted only close to the coast and not in the deep seas where these fishermen usually go for fishing. They called off the agitation late in the night only after the Collector promised that the CM would come and meet them.
Train services between Thiruvananthapuram and Nagercoil were paralysed due to the agitation. Two train services were cancelled and five were partially cancelled, said Railway officials.
Fisher leaders here say 1,083 fishermen are missing along with 83 mechanised and five fibre-glass boats.
Meanwhile, Mr. Palaniswami chaired a high-level review meeting at the Secretariat to take stock of the situation and came out with a series of measures.
An official release said in view of the inability of fishing families in the district to continue fishing activity in December, each of them would be provided a grant of ₹2,500 as livelihood support.
A committee led by the Commissioner of Revenue Administration would be constituted to conduct a detailed probe into the missing fishermen.
“Based on the report, the solatium would be granted after considering the missing fishermen as dead,” the release said. The families of missing fishermen would also be granted an assistance of ₹5,000, considering them as special cases. A compensation of ₹5 lakh will be paid to fishermen who are unable to continue fishing after the cyclone.
Seething discontent: Fishermen block the tracks at Kuzhithurai railway station in Kanniyakumari district and, right, villagers, led by Catholic priests, stage a protest against the perceived lack of efforts to search and rescue fishermen, who went missing during Cyclone Ockhi.