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September 30, 2023

Kochi residents express concerns as the coastal highway project progresses.

Residents of coastal communities like Chellanam have expressed worry over the idea to widen the road, which will necessitate land acquisition and result in the rehabilitation of members of the marine fishing community, as the State coastal highway project gains steam.

The coastal highway will be widened by 14 metres as part of the project, which is being carried out by Kerala Road Fund Board. The 468 km long state coastal portion will be expanded in its entirety. Total investment for the road construction and land purchase is 6,500 crore.

There have reportedly already been more than 184 crore rupees set aside for land purchase between Chellanam and Fort Kochi. According to sources within the Kerala Coastal Area Development Corporation, the Corporation has been tasked with acquiring and rehabilitating land.

According to Charles George, a member of the Fishermen’s Coordination Committee, the government’s Blue Economy goals include widening the coastal route in Kerala as part of a nationwide initiative.

The fundamental concern, he continued, is where will the fisherman go. Six significant ports, including the port at Vizhinjam, coastal development zones, port-based cities and development regions, ship-breaking and new ship-building facilities, as well as tourism circuits, will be developed along the 2,000 km of the coastline.

Fishermen’s unions demonstrated against these practises in front of the Cochin Port Authority office and demanded that the Blue Economy ideas be abandoned. Trade unions from all political stances were present, and MP Hibi Eden opened the demonstration.

The Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC), which has previously stepped in to assist those living along the coast who have been harmed by natural disasters and construction projects, asserted that coastal residents should receive land compensation at the same rate as that provided by the National Highways Authority of India for the expansion of NH 66.

At the protest meeting, Kumbalam Rajappan (AITUC) was one of many speakers who advocated for traditional fisherman.

Jude Joseph, who oversees a research organisation under the KRLCC, asserted that when a compensation package is chosen, it should take into account the fact that fisherman lose their means of subsistence when their homes and land are taken.

Coastal highway widening and development activities were declared, according to KRLCC, without the government first proposing a rehabilitation and compensation plan.

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