A day after the months-long protest against the under-construction Vizhinjam sea port was called off here, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said rehabilitation of local people and protection of their livelihood are top priorities of his government while implementing development projects. The Left government has assured this in all development projects and the approach is the same in the case of Vizhinjam port as well, he said in a statement made in the Assembly under Rule 300. Noting that the government is committed to the infrastructure development of the state that lays the foundation for Kerala’s sustainable economic growth, he said it is also particular about the fact that the projects should be implemented with a humane approach. He said the protest committee had decided to call off the strike during a high-level talk held here on Tuesday. The CM also informed the House about the details of the demands raised by the agitators and the decisions taken on them. “Construction of flats (for rehabilitating fisherfolk) would be completed within one and half years. Two months’ rent will be paid in advance. As per a government order dated September 1, 2022, Rs 5500 will be given as monthly rent,” he said. Assuring that rehabilitation initiatives would be expedited, Vijayan said discussions would be held on the design of the houses being built. An exclusive space would be provided for the upkeep of fishing nets and other livelihood equipment of the community. Operations regarding the Vizhinjam port would continue and the panel appointed by the government to study the coastal erosion would hold discussions with the expert representatives of the fisherfolk soon. Conversion of existing kerosene engines (of fishing boats) to diesel, petrol and gas engines would be implemented soon, and a one-time subsidy would be provided for the same. Taking into account the loss of employment during the days the Disaster Management Authority barred them from venturing into sea, steps would be taken to provide compensation to the fishermen who are included in the list of Fisheries Department, he added. The Fisheries department would hold talks with the Pune Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS) and the representatives of fishermen within two weeks to resolve the issues in Muthalapozhi, where several fishing accidents had been reported in recent years, the CM added. Vijayan also specially thanked Baselios Cleemis, the major archbishop-catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church for the efforts taken to resolve the stalemate over the Vizhinjam issue. The over 130-day-long protest by fisherfolk against the under-construction Vizhinjam sea port was on Tuesday called off for now after discussions between the leaders of the agitation and CM Pinarayi Vijayan. The announcement on calling off the agitation was made by Vicar General Eugene Pereira, who has been at the forefront of the protests. A large number of fisherfolk had been staging demonstrations outside the main entrance of the multi-purpose seaport at nearby Mulloor for the last more than four months. They attacked Vizhinjam police station on the night of November 27, leaving several policemen injured.
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