The protests against the Vizhinjam international seaport will continue, the action council of fishers led by the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram said on Friday after talks with Fisheries Minister V. Abdurahiman, even as council added that the discussion was generally “fruitful”.
The talks remained inconclusive on the demand that an impact assessment be carried out by halting the construction of the port. But headway was made on some of the additional demands made by the fishers.
After the meeting, Eugene Pereira, Vicar General of the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram and action council general convener, told reporters that the protest in Vizhinjam would continue until all seven demands made by the fishers were met in full. On the primary demand of the protesters that the port construction should be halted, Msgr Pereira said the Minister had promised that discussions would be held with the Chief Minister within a week.
Msgr Pereira described the talks as ''fruitful'' but added that the protest would be taken forward until all the demands were met.
Mr. Abdurahiman said the demands made by the action council would be considered favourably. The government agreed to find rented accommodation before Onam for the families of fishermen who lost their homes to coastal erosion.
A panel headed by the Thiruvananthapuram District Collector was tasked with finalising the rent amount and submit a report by August 27. The Director, Fisheries, was directed to submit a report on providing financial assistance to fishers on days they are prevented from setting out to sea due to weather-related warnings.
With regard to the problems linked to the Muthalappozhi harbour mouth, where several fishermen have lost their lives, the Chief Engineer, Harbour Engineering department was tasked to identify solutions in consultation with the local fishermen.
A Minister-level meeting is planned on Monday to finalise the transfer of land for constructing 192 flats at Valiyathura under the 'Punargeham' housing scheme, Mr. Abdurahiman added.
Transport Minister Antony Raju, Fisheries Director Adeela Abdulla, District Collector Geromic George, senior officials of the Fisheries and Harbour Engineering departments, and representatives of the Latin Archdiocese attended the meeting.
On Friday morning, the port site witnessed a massive show of strength ahead of the meeting. Hundreds of men and women broke through police barricades to enter the port waving flags and shouting slogans.
The police maintained restraint and the situation did not deteriorate further. The police and the action council leaders later coaxed the protesters to return to the protest venue outside the port gates.