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Sea incursion in Edavanakad area: Local residents observe hartal, take out protest rally

INDSea incursion in Edavanakad area: Local residents observe hartal, take out protest rally

People block the Vypeem-Munambam Road near Nayarambalam protesting against sea incursion in the Edavanakad area in Kochi on June 28.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A hartal called by a people’s collective in Edavanakad panchayat in Ernakulam district of Kerala on June 28 against the misery spawned by heavy sea incursion has been complete with shops remaining shut, vehicles off the road, blockades on the stretch of the State Highway passing through the coastal panchayat and fishing boats off the waters.

A mammoth protest rally, claimed to have been attended by more than 1,000 people, was taken out from Kuzhuppilly to Aniyal in the morning. People from all walks of life and political parties took part in the rally, which turned out to be a show of solidarity with the collective cause of the panchayat. Traffic through the panchayat remains disrupted.

Shortly thereafter, a delegation of panchayat members led by the president and vice-president and protest committee leaders left for the district collectorate to hold discussions with the District Collector. A day-long blockade of the State Highway organised by the protest committee on June 27 was called off only after a Collector level meeting was agreed to discuss their issues.

“Our primary demand is the erection of tetrapod seawall similar to the one in Chellanam. The traditional seawall is of little use since huge granites are said to be no longer available. As per an estimate, the proposed tetrapod seawall would cost around ₹57 crore,” said V.K. Iqbal, vice-president, Edavanakkad panchayat.

Construction of drains and restoration of the 2.50km-stretch of the old Coastal Highway being the other demands. “Around 1km of the road remains submerged under sand deposit left behind by invading waves while the remaining stretch has been left unmaintained seriously affecting the mobility of the people,” said Jithin M.D., a fisherman.

He also demanded that widespread damage to livelihood such as shrimp farming caused by the invading waves be properly compensated. Around 12 fishing vessels accounting for nearly 50 fishing workers each remain tethered to the shore on June 28 in a show of solidarity with the hartal.

“In the event, the meeting with the district Collector does not throw up a positive income, we will be left with no other alternatives but to further intensify the protest. We may adopt protest measures like indefinite hunger strike,” said Mr. Iqbal.

Meanwhile, widespread resentment is brewing in the panchayat against the perceived indifference of the local MLA K.N. Unnikrishnan against the struggles of the panchayat. “Forget about visiting us, he hasn’t even bothered to inquire about our problems,” alleged Mr. Jithin. Mr. Unnikrishnan could not be reached for his response to the allegations.

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