Dear Sisters ,
Today 5 of us women have left our homes to participate and sit as Satyagrahis in the small pandal near Thiruvannathapuram Domestic terminal where the Anti Adani Vizhinjam Port struggle reaches its 50th day.
Many of you may wonder why we are here and what we are trying to communicate by this Satyagraha. Titled the Indefinite Satyagraha against the Vizhinjam Adani port that is spelling doom this is a joint front to address the issue formed by Fishers and Farmers Support groups in the State. The satyagraha started on June 5th 2022 –the World Environment Day observed world over with the theme “ Only One Earth” when we pledge our care and concern for the ecosystems and nature dependant communities .
As we sit here on this cold windy, yet sunny day we realize with a shock that our status is like a double edged sword. For one, we are part of a large coastal community whose homes were destroyed by the Okhi Cyclone that unexpectedly hit this coast way back in 2017. We are angry and helpless that for the past 4 years we have acquired a new name “ Camp Inhabitants”. The so called camps located either in abandoned FCI godowns or schools are just temporary structures with minimum infrastructure facilities to house families, children, women, youth who are pursuing their studies, senior citizens in various stages of failing health including being bed ridden, mentally instable, physically challenged and so on. But it seems like we are doomed to live permanently in these inhuman circumstances. Those among us who can afford which is very few have taken small houses on rent and shifted after the initial period. Most of us have lost all essential possessions which we have acquired during the course of our life.
The cubicles we live in are poorly ventilated and small. The toilets are inadequate and hygiene cannot be maintained because of overuse.
Is this not enough reason for us to join the struggle which demands strongly that the people in the villages impacted adversely by the increased ingress of sea and sea erosion be rehabilitated and compensated in proportion to their loss? Many of us are also part of the large coastal population that lost their homes in the violent monsoon waves of 2018-2021.
The second reason we are here is in full compliance with the fact that construction activities connected to the Vizhinjam Adani port that started in 2015 which includes dredging and putting groynes has obstructed the natural movement of sand along the ocean floor that results in a balanced accretion –erosion cycle . This has resulted in the loss of many beaches on the side of the coast north of the Port construction area and accretion in the areas south . This observation by us ,fishers has been now proven by scientific bodies and independent scientists who tried to advise the Government. This has fallen on deaf ears especially with the present government steeped in ecological ignorance, gross human rights violations and financial corruption. Blinded and mesmerized by the Rs 7525 crore port project, all governments whether the UDF led one in 2015 when the contract was signed and the subsequent two terms of the LDF have taken special attention to provide the land and resources to the Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Limited.
This unholy alliance has us, those living on the coast and eking out a sustenance not just at the receiving end but at the losing end too. This is the third reason we are here at the struggle front to join the Relay Satyagraha day after day. The demand to reinstate the vanishing beaches and lost livelihood by stopping work on the port may seem farfetched but we believe that Nature if given some rest will rejuvenate . Not only are beaches from where we access the sea lost but we have been cheated into rehabilitation packages that demand that we give up not only our beaches and homes but also the livelihood that is our pulse and heart beat. The fabric of our social network has been torn by loss of livelihood and we women who have never ever ventured away from our sea facing homes are forced to come to the city as domestic workers. Our men have lost out on specially evolved and unique ways of accessing the resources of the sea like mussel collection and shore seine fishing.
Is not all of these demands and the state we are in enough reason to join the Joint Front created to establish our voices and share our woes?
We are here not to win or lose but we are here to establish the truth and the grimness of our life. The city dwellers including the planners and developers need the resources of the sea as fresh fish on the dining table. Do they for a moment think of us going out to the sea for long hours braving the waves, wind and currents and bringing back the wealth that sea offers ? But not even for a fraction of as second do they think that a dream project of the planners and corporate developers is turning into a nightmare for us.
We write this to you to tarry awhile and extend your support to us and demand to the Chief Minister of Kerala to create a platform to meet with us and discuss our just demands. We know he found time to discuss the progress of the Adani port with the CEO of the company recently. We assembled at the Secretariat on 23rd July to express our strong protest with the slogan Adani Go Back. The joining of the Thiruvananthapuram Latin Diocese with the same demands as ours has strengthened us and motivated more people from the community to participate.
We request you to write to the Chief Minister email@example.com requesting him to arrange a meeting with representatives of the 4 main organizations leading this struggle which are Kerala Swantathra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, Rashtreeya kisan Maha Sangh, Sewa Union and Coastal Watch.
Sisters from Anti Vizhinjam Adani Port struggle front
Anitha.S in conversation with Seeta Dasan, Bindu Xavier , Candida, , Amala, Alsalamma, Celin Mary, Geetha, Vimala, Aleena, A.J.Vijayan, Anto Elias. Dr.Tito and many others .
Anitha.S is an independent ecologist based in Thiruvananthapuram can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org