Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New lease of life for 6 TN fishermen

Repro from New Indian Express
Published Date: 10/29/2008.

G Saravanan

Chennai, October 28: THOUGH Chennaiites and others elsewhere in Tamil Nadu celebrated Deepavali with customary pomp and fanfare on Monday, the families of six Kasimedu fishermen, who have returned from Colombo after spending six restless weeks, observed the festival of lights only on Tuesday.

The fishermen, Vinod (25), Gopal (50), Desingh (49), Pon Boss (60), Kumar (30) and Arumugam (28), had ventured into the sea from Kasimedu Fishing Harbour on a mechanised boat owned by Balu on September 18. They were scheduled to return after three days.

But things had gone awry on the third day as their boat developed technical snag and started drifting in mid-sea. Panicstricken boat owner and the family members of the fishermen had lodged a complaint with the Kasimedu police and remained in prayer.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan fishermen rescued the missing Indian fishermen from their boat after 17 restless days on October 6 and landed them at Trincomalee. After hectic diplomatic efforts by the Indian High Commission in Colombo, all the six fishermen were set free and brought to the Indian soil after a 40- day ordeal.

It was double delight for Rajeshwari, wife of returned fisherman Desingh. “For us, Deepawali celebration was on Tuesday only, as my husband and my son-in-law Kumar (another crew on the same boat) returned home.”

“As days gone by, relatives have lost their hope on my husband, but my daughter Sujatha and me had faith on the Goddess that both of them ( husband and son-inlaw would come back soon,” she told Express.

Emotion gripped Desingh’s home in Kasimedu when his grandchildren Vinodhini (5) and Danush (1) hugged their grandfather and father and asked them: “ Where have you been all these days,? Little did they know their 40-day ordeal on sea and land.

Besides Desingh and Kumar, other fishermen also have innumerable tales to tell their children and family members.Though the festival of lights passed by on Monday, families of these fishermen lit their homes with traditional lamps on Tuesday symbolising the return of the breadwinners.

Only tears of starvation for fishermen

Repro from New Indian Express

Only tears of starvation for fishermen
Published Date: 10/23/2008
G Saravanan
Chennai, October 22: ROCKET launches from Sriharikota may help Indians land on the moon, but for thousands of fishermen in 17 hamlets along a stretch near Tamil Nadu- Andhra Pradesh border, it means going to bed without food for several days. Today, Wednesday, October 22 is no exception when India has joined the select six nation space club with the successful launch of a rocket.

More than 25,000 fishermen living on the Palaverkadu (Pulicat lake) stretch near the border have been making the sacrifice of “forced holidays without earning” for the last four deca des whenever the ISRO launched a rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Citing security reasons, these fishermen were ordered by the local authorities not to venture into the sea surrounding the launch centre and Pulicat lake for at least 10 to 20 days at a stretch during rocket launches.

While disallowing the fishermen to catch fish during the ban period, neither the State government nor the ISRO management ever thought of giving any compensation for the loss of livelihood. The traditional fishermen, who solely depend on daily fishing for their livelihood using catamaran and small fibre boats, have been paying a heavy heavy price for living very close to the all important space centre.

“While over a billion hearts congratulate the Indian scientists for their extraordinary stride in space science on every rocket launch attempt, a few thousand hearts burn and suffer in agony,”, said K Bharathi, president of South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association.” The fishermen are also happy about our achievements, but they cannot understand how they were left in the lurch by the authorities.” he added.

The association has held an ‘attention- seeking demonstration’ on the issue at Ponneri on Wednesday and more than 500 fishermen participated in it. “We struggle hard to make both ends meet during these ban periods,” Sithan, a fisherman told Express. The association has also sent memorandum to the State Government and the ISRO.