Church leaders meet PM, seek Rs 3,500-cr package The Church said over 6,030 fishermen were directly affected by the cyclone

The Latin Church has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a Rs 3,500 crore Central package for Ochki relief measures. A Church delegation led by Archbishop Soosa Pakiam met the Prime Minister on Dec 19 evening and petitioned for central assistance.

The Church said over 6,030 fishermen were directly affected by the cyclone. “Among them 70 fishermen in Kerala are dead and 108 men in Kanyakumari district are reported dead. Several are still missing.

The 39 coastal villages in Kerala and the sea coast of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu are heavily eroding due to the unscientific constructions in the sea which resulted in loss of several houses in the past and during the cyclone,” the petition said. The delegation raised a number of demands, including forming a Central ministry to coordinate and effectively manage coastal and fisheries affairs in the country.

Other demands include – declaring Ochki cyclone and other sea disasters as natural calamities, introducing auto piloting systemised crafts for search operation and establish joint operation units in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, satellite-based tracking system in fishing boats in collaboration with ISRO and starting a Wireless Personal Communication (WPC) office in Thiruvananthapuram.

They said central assistance would be needed for sustainable compensation fund for the deceased, the missing families and permanently disabled families (300 crore), Satellite Tracking System and VHF Radio Sets (80 crore), Marine Ambulances (70 crore), compensation for lost vessels and replacement of small vessels (800 crore), integrated housing with basic amenities (1,250 crore), coastal protection measures (750 crore) and disaster preparedness and rescue operations (250 crore).Appreciating the rescue and relief measures carried out by the Central Government, the Church sought imminent action on the special package.

Modi spoke to over a dozen fisherwomen, fish workers’ representatives and Church leaders. He assured them that all fishermen who have been stranded in the sea will be brought back before Christmas.

The Prime Minister said the Navy and Coast Guard vessels would continue to step up surveillance to rescue the remaining fishermen. Also, efforts would continue to recover the bodies of those who have died in the cyclone.

Source: New Indian Express

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