Govt.’s rehabilitation plan for fishers evokes cold response

It’s a tough life: Poor construction of sea walls on vulnerable stretches of the Kozhikode coast is proving a threat to houses. A house damaged by waves on Butt Road Beach .

It’s a tough life: Poor construction of sea walls on vulnerable stretches of the Kozhikode coast is proving a threat to houses. A house damaged by waves on Butt Road Beach .   | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP

₹10 lakh offered is insufficient to purchase land and build houses, feel beneficiaries

The State government’s plan to shift 2,606 fishermen families living along unsafe coastal areas in Kozhikode district to safer locations has faced a setback, with a majority of them opposing it, citing practical difficulties and describing it as an “unsatisfactory rehabilitation package”.

Only 549 families in the district have so far expressed willingness to accept the package and move out of their homes.

The package offers only ₹10 lakh to a family to purchase three cents and construct a house less than 600 sft. However, several beneficiaries along the 72-km coastline here have found the sum insufficient to meet the actual requirement, considering the high value of land, its distance from harbours, increasing cost of construction, and the difficulty of living in small houses with more members.

A field study conducted by the Fisheries Department had found that all the 2,606 families identified for the proposed housing assistance were now staying within just 50 metres of the coastline which is prone to sea erosion. Their relocation to safer places continues to be a challenging task in view of safety aspects and increasing incidents of sea erosion.

Sudheer Kishan, Deputy Director, Fisheries Department, said the department was not in a position to compel families to accept the package and shift to other locations, considering their emotional attachment to their homes and a possible delay in finding suitable land close to fishing harbours. “For now, 549 families are prepared to accept the offer, and their list will be submitted to the government by December, clearing all technical issues,” he added.

Mr. Kishan pointed out that the support of the District Development Committee too was crucial in identifying suitable land. “Our plan is to make use of ‘purampokku’ land for the project so that the cost of construction can be minimised,” he said.

Though the Fisheries Department is optimistic about the gradual implementation of the project, fishermen’s organisations in the city argue that it is possible only through a major revision of the existing financial package. They claimed that fishermen families would not be able to relocate themselves to places far away from harbours and fish landing centres.

“There are several small houses within the Kozhikode corporation limits occupied by two or more fishermen families. Shifting them to 600-sft homes is hardly a practical idea, and the government should come up with a sensible offer,” said Irfan Habeeb, a fisherman from Vellayil. Mr. Habeeb, who is also the leader of a fishermen’s association, pointed out that the government should consider the possibility of constructing spacious flats in coastal areas, and they can actually reduce expenses and ensure better amenities for the segment.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 7:25:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/govts-rehabilitation-plan-for-fishers-evokes-cold-response/article29857528.ece

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