Special Correspondent

They complain that rehabilitation colonies lack facilities

MANGALORE: Fishermen from Udupi, Karwar, Bhatkal and Kumta, besides those from Mangalore, came to represent their grievances to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi here on Wednesday.

E.I. Tandel, an office-bearer of the District Displaced People’s Action Committee of Uttar Kannada told The Hindu (media was not allowed to participate in the interaction) that more than 10,000 people had been displaced owing to the Sea Bird naval project in Karwar. But, they had not been given adequate compensation, and the rehabilitation colonies did not have the required facilities, he added. He said a large number of fishermen had parted with their land on a promise made by the then Prime Minsiter Rajiv Gandhi that that they would be properly rehabilitated. Mr. Tandel expressed hope that Mr. Rahul Gandhi would keep the promise. Subraya B. Harikanth, who came along with fishermen and women in a van from Kumta, said he had had pointed out to Mr. Rahul Gandhi that the proposed power plant at Tadadi would displace 35,000 to 40,00 people in as many as 40 villages.

Loan waiver

President of the National Fishermen’s Association Rama M. Moger, who had brought a group of fishermen from Bhatkal, demanded that the loan waiver scheme be extended to fishermen as well. During the regime of Rajiv Gandhi, fishermen had received boats and fishing nets at a discount, Mr. Moger added. He expressed hope that Mr. Rahul Gandhi would reintroduce the facility. He also said Scheduled Tribes status should be given to fishermen.

Three women representing the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samithi complained that senior Congress leaders from the district did not empathise with the people’s concerns with regard to the Mangalore Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The women, Hemalatha S. Bhat, Emelda and Agnes, said that Mr. Rahul Gandhi should advise the leaders in the district to “open their eyes to reality and be receptive to the people’s sentiments and concerns.” Vinod Mascarenhas, a student of St. Aloysius College told The Hindu that he had tried to raise the SEZ issue at an interactive session with Mr. Gandhi but was prevented from doing so.