Posted on May 31, 2023
Theera Sadass, the first-of-its-kind reach-out programme of the State government to ensure the participation of fishermen and people from coastal areas in planning for development, evoked both good response and garnered some criticism about the way it was organised.
Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian, who inaugurated the first Theera Sadass in Fort Kochi, promised to settle complaints in a time-bound manner. The organisers said that of the 556 complaints received at the Sadass for the Kochi constituency, as many as 202 were settled, and ₹72-lakh worth benefits were distributed to beneficiaries on the basis of their complaints.
It was also decided to dredge accumulated sediments from the Kumbalanghi backwaters, one of the key sources of fish on the western side of the city. The demand for dredging has been a long-standing one. The backwaters are also key to efficient outflow of stormwater into the sea from Kochi city.
The second Theera Sadass in the district was held for the Vypeen Assembly constituency.
At the same time, a few stakeholders came down on the way the sessions were organised. P.V. Jayan, the district secretary of the Paramparagatha Matsya Thozhilali Samithi representing the traditional fishing sector, alleged that the session on Saturday was organised on political lines, and that the Samithi had not been invited to join trade union leaders’ interactions with the Minister though they were invited to the public meeting later in the day. He said the Samithi did not represent any political party, and that it was above caste and creed.
Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) State president Sherry J. Thomas said neither the KLCA nor the Kochi Diocese had been given any official intimation about the conduct of the Theera Sadass. The KLCA has represented the interests of residents of coastal areas, including issues related to Coastal Regulation Zone norms.
Sources in the Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council said the government had been informed of issues confronting coastal residents from time to time. However, they were not considered with the seriousness they required, they added.
A fishing boat operator who participated in the event said the Theera Sadass was a positive effort to address key issues confronting the fishermen and coastal residents.
Construction of groynes
Antony Kureethara, Opposition leader in the Kochi Corporation Council, said that the demands put forward by the UDF at the Theera Sadass included immediate construction of groynes along the Chellanam coast to prevent sea erosion and renovation of fish markets. He added that the demand for subsidised diesel for fishermen figured prominently among the UDF demands.
The issues that came up for discussions on Saturday included construction of houses in coastal areas, compensation for loss of property, infrastructure development, functioning of health centres, problems facing inland fishermen, repair of coastal roads, and drinking water issues.
It was decided to shift the Chellanam Family Health Centre to a new building temporarily until the panchayat built a new building using funds from the Fisheries department. The Minister instructed officials to present an estimate for dredging the Kallancherry backwaters. Work on the sluice gate at Anjilithara in Kumbalanghi will be speeded up, and water supply will be ensured in Ward 2 of the panchayat.
Encroachments in areas close to where tetrapods were constructed will be cleared, and as many as 150 families hit by the Cyclone Tauktae in 2021 will be included as beneficiaries under the Life Mission housing programme, the Minister said.
K.J. Maxy, MLA, District Collector N.S.K. Umesh, and Fisheries Director Adeela Abdulla were among those who participated in the programme at Fort Kochi.