By Anupama Vimal
A group of fishermen from Alappad in Kollam district of Kerala have decided to boycott the coming Parliament elections as part of intensifying their protest against illegal mineral sand mining activities in the region and also the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards many of the issues related to fishermen in the region.
About 2,000 fishermen in Alappad panchayat in Karunagapally have decided to keep away from the Lok Sabha elections. “Two thousand pensioners from the fishermen community have decided to keep away from the elections,” Matsyathozhilali Pensioners Forum president Chandra Das told kadapuram.com.
The decision was taken after holding discussions with almost all the members of the Forum, he added.
Stating that they have decided to boycott the elections because of the lackadaisical attitude of the government in many of the issues pertaining to fishermen, he said. “we mainly raise the issues related to Alappad panchayat along with the issues that affect the whole fishing community,” he said.
Chandra Das said they have also called upon others to be part of the agitation. One of the reasons that they put forth is with regard to social security schemes. When social security pension was implemented across the state, the fishermen in the Panchayat were left out, he alleged.
“Alappad is the only panchayat in the state where this pension scheme has not been implemented. When we approached the authorities, it was said that we had not applied on time for the scheme,” he said.
Another reason that the forum highlights is that of the security of their life and land. “As far as Alappad is concerned, we are much concerned about our land as there is a possibility that this land will be wiped off from the globe if mining activities continue. The government that is bound to protect the lives of the people are not showing any interest,” he said.
He also said that they do not have a Public Health Center in Alappad. Despite a building, the authorities are yet to appoint doctors, nurses and other staff here. Apart from this, the Ayurveda dispensary is also not functioning here, Chandra Das said. The buildings were constructed using tsunami funds, he added.
Moreover, the authorities have also not taken any interest in developing the school here. He also alleged that the tsunami funds that were meant for the fisher folk were spent otherwise.