The Rally in Tuticorin against the proposed CZM Notification became an historic event, as over five thousand of coastal community people from the coastal villages of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin thronged around Cruz Fernando’s statute and started off a rally which ended at Sub collector’s office. The rally called by the fisher community associations, mechanised and country craft operator’s associations in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin Districts, was flagged off by Rev. Sundari Mynthan. We could see a prominent presence of the priests and nuns. The Bishop of Tuticorin has sent letter to all the parishes positively encouraging the community to participate in the rally.
Earlier, Gilbert presented the facts related to the CZM and the adverse impact it could have on the people of the coastal communities. The common crowd that was watching the gathering, belonging to the other castes, were stunned by the reality that they also will be affected.
The rally that was started at around 10.30 am on 20th June, went through the many streets of Tuticorin town, was lead by the leaders of various fisher community associations and leaders of the traditional boats and mechanised boats operators. National Union of Fishermen, Tamilnadu Pondy Fisher people federation, Unorganised labourers trade union, veeranganai women’s movement, Christian liberation movement were among those who also participated.
The rally ended at the Sub Collector’s office where the rallyists presented a memorandum of demand to the sub collector. The major demand was that the proposed Coastal Zone Management Notification should be give up in toto and that existing CRZ Notification shall be riveted back to the status as of 1991, until a comprehensive legislation could be enacted by the Union govt for ensuring the rights of the fisher communities over the sea and the coastal lands. Mr. Kayas, Mr. Anton Gomez and Ms. Fatima Babu spoke on the occasion. As a symbol of resistance, some members burnt the copy of the draft notification as appeared in the website of the ministry.
“The coastal lands were already taken over by the industries and other vested interests in large chunks. As the result, the coastal communities have lost the ground water, the land, the employment opportunities, the livelihood opportunities and even are suffering a cultural decadence. The women are facing increased violence” said Fatima, women leader from Tuticorin District.
“The fisher community is both Jawan and Kisan without any payment. The govt. should not only give up the notification but should recognise such role of the fisher community”, said Kayas, President of the Country craft operators of Tirunelveli District.
“Thousands of registered letters demanding that the CZM notification be given up, are sent to the Prime Minister and the MOEF in the last month alone from Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanykumari Districts. A few thousand more will be sent from all over the country in the next 10 days. Today, similar protests were held in more than 60 places all over the coastal districts of India . If the union ministry does not give up the notification, we will have to make national decision about making rigorous step to pressurise the government” said Mr. Anton Gomez, President of National Union of Fishermen.
“Even dropping the CZM Notification will not be total victory to us. We want the government to enact a comprehensive legislation that would recognise the rights of the fisher communities over the sea and the coast and until then we want the CRZ Notification to be riveted back to the status as of 1991. Any thing less will not be success to us” said Mr. Gilbert Rodrigo, adviser to Tamilnadu Pondy Fisher People Federation.
Mr. Napolean, organiser of Tirunelveli District Fisher community Federation, thanked all who participated in the rally and made it a success.
On behalf of the organisers.