Vizhinjam: Latin archdiocese for open agitation

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Thiruvananthapuram (Matters India): Even though the state government on Friday declared a rehabilitation/compensation package for persons who will be displaced or affected by the Vizhinjam port project, the Latin Archdiocese of Trivandrum has taken exception to it and has announced an ‘open stir’ against the `7,525-crore project.

By announcing the `296 crore package, the government has insulted the fishermen community and rejected all the proposals it has submitted. The clergy will stage a one-day fast outside the Secretariat on September 23 to protest the government’s apathy towards the coastal community. This will be followed up with a Secretariat march on September 28, the Archdiocese said.

On Friday, the government published the report submitted by the Livelihood Impact Assessment Committee (LIAC) which lists 3,423 persons, including fishermen and small business operators, along with the compensation and rehabilitation packages. The District Collector-led appeal committee is scheduled to hold hearings on the report on September 28 and 29.

From the beginning, the government had taken the stand that the project report has a provision for rehabilitation of families which would be hit by the project, The New Indian Express reported.

The Archdiocese, on the other hand, has demanded rehabilitation measures for fishermen families living in the Panathura-Veli stretch who would be affected by the construction of the three-kilometre-long breakwater. According to the Archdiocese, 50,000 fishermen would be hit by the construction. Among other demands, the church also wanted 50 per cent reservation for persons from fishermen families for jobs at the port.

“The government has insulted the fishermen community by ignoring all the demands made by the Latin Archdiocese in its `296 crore package,” a meeting of the Archdiocese Action Council, led by top church leaders including vicar general Fr Eugene Pereira, held here on Saturday, said. Last month, Archbishop Maria Soosa Pakiam had issued a pastoral letter threatening to block the project if the government failed to heed the demands of the coastal communities.

Over the last month, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had held a series of talks with various groups including the church, the Jama-aths, the Dheevara Sabha and the clam and lobster fishermen. The government had signed the concession agreement with the Adani Group on August 17 and construction is set to begin by year-end.

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