Fishing strike hits coastal belt in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 27 (PTI):
A day long hartal (strike), called by various outfits over the ongoing controversy regarding an alleged deep sea fishing contract between the CPI(M)-led government and a US-based company, hit life in coastal areas of Kerala on Saturday.
Various pro-Congress outfits, under the banner of Matsya Mekhala Samrakshana Samithi, called for the hartal in the coastal belt.
Boats did not venture into seain the majority of places and hundreds of fishermen kept themselves away from their job, expressing solidarity with the agitation.
Harbours and shops in coastal areas remained shut in various districts.
Both boat owners and traditional fishermen were cooperating with the hartal, the Samithi sources said.
As the government had already cancelled the MoUs in this regard with the EMCC International, the US-based firm, three outfits were staying away from the stir.
However, leaders of other outfits claimed that the government’s assurance lacks clarity.
The Left government had decided to cancel a Rs 5,000 crore memorandum of understanding (MoU) between KSIDC and the EMCC International, against which the Opposition Congress has been raising serious allegations.
They had also cancelled another controversial MoU worth Rs 2,950 crore between the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) and the same company to build 400 deep sea fishing trawlers and new harbours and for the port development activities.
The MoUs were signed by the KSINC and KSIDC with EMCC International at a state government-sponsored global investors meet, ASCEND, in Kochi last year.
The opposition Congress on Thursday had organised a day- long ‘satyagraha’ protest at Poonthura, a fishing hamlet near here, demanding removal of Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma in connection with the controversial deal.
They alleged that the deals, if implemented, would have adverselyimpacted the lives oflakhs of fishermen in the state.

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