Kerala

Fishers’ fight for livelihood ends on a happy note

Photo for representational purpose only.

Photo for representational purpose only.  

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Their stake nets were dislodged for construction of resort

The family of Sailan A.K. was among several fishers who made a living by fishing with stake nets close to Nediyathuruthu island in Vembanad Lake till 2007. In 2007, the 11.5-acre island was bought by Kapico Kerala Resorts Private Limited. It soon started constructing villas there.

The project, however, changed the life of fisher families in the area after 13 licensed stake nets were removed for the construction of the resort.

“We used to fish using stake nets near Nediyathuruthu island before the construction of the resort. For several decades, it was our main source of income. We lost our livelihood after the nets were dislodged. We are delighted our fight against the illegal resort ended on a happy note,” says Mr. Sailan.

After the families lost their livelihood, K.R. Ratheesh, a relative of Sailan, moved the Cherthala munsif court in 2008, demanding that the villas constructed in violation of the Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ) Act on the island be demolished.

The petition also sought damages and restoration of nets. However, the court dismissed the petition.

After the Cherthala sub-court issued a stop-memo to Kapico in 2010, the legal battle soon reached the Kerala High Court.

In the meantime, the Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi and others impleaded in the case. The rest is history.

First, the High Court ordered the demolition in 2013. On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court verdict.

Historical verdict

The apex court verdict is seen as a major victory for the fishing community and a strong message against constructing structures violating the CRZ and other norms. Charles George, president, Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi (TUCI), termed the Supreme Court order a historical verdict. “It was a case of justice delayed but not denied. Kapico constructed the resort blatantly violating existing rules. It filled paddy fields and the lake for the construction of villas and other structures. They had colluded with bureaucracy and politicians to materialise the project,” Mr. George said.

Order welcomed

Panavally grama panchayat authorities have welcomed the order.

“We welcome the apex court order. Illegal constructions should go. But, we do not have the finance and expertise to demolish the resort. A decision on how to go ahead and implement the order will be taken after discussing the matter with the authorities concerned,” said Pradeep Koodaikkal, president, Panavally grama panchayat.

Officials with the Alappuzha district administration said that they would initiate further action after receiving the apex court order.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 7:23:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/fishers-fight-for-livelihood-ends-on-a-happy-note/article30538176.ece

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