Fishworkers from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal protested against the proposed Shipping Corridor and SagarMala Project on Oct 30.
As they had promised, the National Fishworkers Forum called for a nation-wide protest on 30th October 2018. The protests across the state saw a turnout of thousands of fishermen and the general public. NFF stands firm against any proposed plan of a shipping corridor as it endangers the lives of all fishermen.
The protests were a success in garnering attention towards the fishing communities and their plights at the hands of a disinterested government and an exploitative corporate nexus. In Kerala, Shri. K.V Thomas, Hon’ble Member of Parliament inaugurated the protests, standing firmly in support of all fishing communities. MLA, Shri. M. Vincent was also in attendance. In Maharasthra, various fishing unions convened in large numbers, rallied for their livelihood and opposed the government’s one-sided notification. Shri. Mahadev Janker, Minister of Cattle and Dairy Development, Fisheries, attended the protests and heard the fishing communities’ demands. Along with him, Shri. Rahula Navekar, Shri. Bhai Jagtap, Shri. Raj Purohit, Shri Jayant Patil, all MLAs, also participated. Numerous political leaders joined the protests across all coastal states and were in support of the fishing communities and their demands.
In Goa, amidst hundreds of fishermen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effigy was burned as a collective sign of dissatisfaction. With a strong opposition to the disastrous effects of the Blue Economy, including the SagarMala project, various Goan Fishing Unions expressed their mistrust in the current ruling government. Furthermore, in West Bengal, all fishing unions submitted a memorandum outlining their fears and listing their demands to the concerned Ministry. Odisha and Tamil Nadu also saw a turnout of hundreds of fishermen standing in solidarity with each other and against the proposed shipping corridor.
Mr. Narendra Patil, The Chairperson of NFF and Mr. T. Peter, General Secretary have both pledged that if the government does not relent and continues towards establishing a shipping corridor, these protests will become nationwide and will reach Delhi too.
In this regard protests were held in Gujarat: Kutch, Porbandar, Veraval; Maharashtra: Mumbi Port, Ratnagiri and Malvan; Goa: Vasco fishing harbour; Karnataka: Mangalore, Karvar, Malppe harbours; Kerala: Kochin port, Chellanam harbour, Vizhinjam harbour; Tamil Nadu: Colachal, Thengapattanam, Muttam, Chinnamuttam and Nagapattinam harbours and Ramnadu; Andhra Pradesh: Guntur Bapatla; Odisha: Bhubaneswar Rajbhavan; West Bengal: Contai and Diamond Harbour.
If the government, does not heed the demands of the fishworkers after this protest, the NFF is planning to take a massive campaign across the coastal states with immediate effect.
Speaking to Sabrang India, Thomas Peter, the General Secretary of NFF from Kerala had earlier said that the govt was acting on corporate interest to implement their SagarMala project which connects all the ports in India. “We are trying to meet the minister for shipping and the govt but they haven’t spoken to us. How can they take such a decision without knowing how will it affect the fishermen community and people dependent on the coast for livelihood? If we go deep sea fishing beyond 15 nautical miles, we won’t be able to find proper fish, consumers won’t get what they need and we will lose our livelihoods. If we trespass the corridor, we get arrested. If we go into international waters, we get arrested. The ministers sitting in Delhi don’t understand what they are doing in the name of development,” he said.
National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) executive committee and fishermen leaders meeting was held on October 7, 2018 at Velsao Panchayat hall, Goa and they decided that National wide protest campaign against the proposed shipping corridor will be held on 30th October in all the coastal states. It was said that all fishermen will protest with their country boats and mechanized boats in the sea, wherever possible.
Affiliates of the National Fishworkers Forum: –
1. Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS – Gujarat)- Usmangani Sherasiya- 09427443976
2. Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samiti (MMKS) (Maharashtra)- Kiran Koli- 09702-265813
3. Shramik Macchimar Kriti Samiti (Maharashtra)- Ravikiran Toraskar- 092259-00303
4. Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott (GRE- Goa)- Olencio Simoes- 091588-75851
5. Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee (Karnataka)- Vasudev Boloor- 09449207805
6. Kerala Swathanthra Malsyathozhilali Federation (KSMTF- Kerala)- Jackson Pollayil- 09349447166
7.Ramnadu District Fishworkers Union (Tamil Nadu)- Paul Samy- 094423-22393 –
8.Vangakadal Meen Thozhilalar Sangam Tamilnadu (Tamil Nadu)- Dr.Kumaravelu- 09442867035
9. Karaikal Fishworkers Union (Puducherry)- Vedavalli- 09047984880
10. Democratic Traditional Fisher’s and Fish workers Forum (Andhra Pradesh)- Debasis Paul 08555809779
11. Orissa Traditional Fish Workers Union (Odisha)- K. Allaya- 09437-069286
12. Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF – West Bangal)- Millan Das- 078724-07611