Political parties, fishworkers’ forums raise concerns of livelihood

The future of seaplane operations in the State is shrouded in doubt following allegations that the project will threaten the livelihood of fisherfolk.

Several fishworkers’ organisations and political parties had aired their concerns over the project which was launched last week.

CPI leader Pannian Ravindran has hinted at protests against seaplane operations on lakes.

Fishermen Coordination Committee chairman V. Dinakaran, an ex-MLA, said the committee was firm in its objection to the seaplane operations as it would harm the livelihood of fishermen. The seaplane would not be allowed to take off from Kollam if the government planned to extend the service to Alappuzha, he told The Hindu.

The committee consisted of organisations such as Dheevara Sabha, Matsya Thozhilali Federation (CITU), Matsya Thozhilai Federation (AITUC), Matsya Thozhilali Federation (UTUC) and fishermen’s organisations of the Muslim League and other political parties, he said.

The launch of the project in Kollam was marked by protests by fishermen. A chain of fishing boats was positioned at Punnamada in Alappuzha where the inaugural flight was scheduled to land. Such protests could be repeated unless the issues raised by fishermen are sorted out. The protests would be strengthened, Mr. Dinakaran said.

The authorities have announced their intention to discuss the matter at a conciliatory meeting, the date of which has not yet been announced.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to go ahead with the operations. Infrastructure is being built at scheduled base stations. Decision on the location of a base station in Kochi, the third in the seaplane itinerary, is yet to be made by the civil aviation authorities. The government, however, can avoid bowing to the opposition politics by operating seaplane services from the safe waters of dams. The list of proposed base stations include at least seven dams — Mattupetti, Neyyar, Bhoothathankettu, Idamalayar, Poringalkuthu, Malampuzha, and Banasursagar.

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