Following frantic negotiations between the demonstrators and the state administration, which Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan also attended, the fishing community’s protests in Kerala over the Vizhinjam Port Project, which had been ongoing for nearly 140 days, were called off on Tuesday.
After meeting with Vijayan, Latin Church spokesperson Eugiene Perreria told the media that despite the fact that the government had not fully complied with their demands, the protest had been called off. On Wednesday, the Kerala High Court is set to make several significant rulings about the protest against the port project.
“We have got certain assurances from the government and though we have not got all our demands accepted, it has been decided to call off the protest. We will be closely monitoring the upcoming events and at the same time we will be expecting that the government will take a favorable step,” said Perreria. The major demands put forward by the protesters which include stopping of the ongoing work at the Vizhinjam port have not been accepted. Also, another demand, to constitute a special committee – comprising their members to study the environmental damages caused to the locality – was also not accepted.
“We, however, have decided to constitute our own committee which will do their study on the damages and once it’s done, there will be a discussion with the government on our findings also. We also declined to accept a sum from the Adani Ports from their CSR funds instead, we said we will however accept Rs 5,500 per month for each of the fishermen families who are presently staying on rent from the state government,” added Perreria.
This topic was also discussed in the Kerala Assembly when V.D. Satheesan, the leader of the opposition, criticized Vijayan for not bringing up the matter with the demonstrators.
Vijayan responded, “We did not agree on their demand of pausing development at the port site until the environment impact research takes place,” after having discussions on the matter with the “top-most person.”