Kerala govt announces new schemes for coastal communities; critics call it electoral damage control

Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma announced that the state government would provide fisherfolk with ten deep-sea fishing trawlers through the Cochin Shipyard within eight months
Kerala govt announces new schemes for coastal communities; critics call it electoral damage control

The Kerala government is trying to win back the people’s trust in the coastal belt with the announcement of a slew of new announcements. The new offers came hours before the Election Commission announced the dates for the election in the state. This also follows the controversies surrounding the EMCC India deep-sea fishing deals.

Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma announced that the state government would provide fisherfolk with ten deep-sea fishing trawlers through the Cochin Shipyard within eight months. The state government would also open the apartments and houses constructed for the fisherfolk as well as provide kerosene at Rs 25 per litre from March onwards.

Earlier, the state government had been in deep trouble over the deals signed with EMMC India. The Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation inked a pact with the US-based company to manufacture over 400 trawlers for deep-sea fishing. The comprehensive deal with Kerala State Industries Development Corporation allowed the company four acres in the Mega Food Park in Pallipuram, and a processing unit for further manufacturing.

Critics had pointed out that the deal would convert the traditional fisherfolk into contract labourers who would no longer be related to their ecology. The minister’s latest announcement seems to be a way forward in the right direction. However, others are pointing out that this is an election strategy to pull votes ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls. Nevertheless, some believe that providing trawlers to the coastal community instead of a multinational company is a step in the right direction in providing a stronger agency to the fisherfolk.

Meanwhile, the state government had also cancelled the land allotted to EMCC India at the Food Park, while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that the opposition is trying to spread rumours about the government. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala had revealed the details about the deals and asked the government what in those details were wrong. “The government, from day one, had been denying the existence of the deal, while Mercykutty Amma had been lying about it. If the opposition hadn’t brought it to the fore, then the government would have gone ahead with the deal and sold the sea to an American company,” Ramesh said.

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