News By/Courtesy: Ambuja Jain | 22 May 2019 23:44pm IST

In Kanyakumari, the Christian fisherfolk community is seeking re-election in the Lok Sabha elections, alleging a conspiracy to silence them through mass deletion of names of voters from fishing villages, for protesting against the BJP-led central government’s scheme to develop the coastline under the Sagarmala project. In the last parliamentary elections, the BJP had made a comeback after almost 15 years with the solitary seat of Kanyakumari held by Pon Radhakrishnan. Over the past five years, the centre has earned a lot of ill-will in the southern constituency, especially among the fisherfolk communities.

The district coast consists of 47 fishing villages, populated primarily by Christian fisherfolk. The fishing industry has been facing several threats – ecological, political and developmental. In the last few years, there have been multiple protests by fishing communities mainly against the local projects slated to be developed under the Sagarmala project, which looks to unlock the potential of the country’s coastline and inland waterways to drive industrial development. The plan for the scheme was released in April 2016 and lists 150 initiative with a total outlay of Rs.4 lakh crores.

Soon after, the Enayam International Coastliner Transshipment Terminal was introduced, stretching 12 kilometers along the coastline and including a four-lane highway and railway line. But this also meant the displacement of 20,000 fishing families from eight villages in the district. Already, the proposed location had already been moved for reasons unknown. After many protests, the terminal was canceled and moved to a new location in the same district, nearer to Kovalam. Though, the authorities have assured that displacement and land acquisition for the project will be considerably less, concerns over loss of agricultural land and waters for fishing, and drastic changes to the local coastal landscape still continue to exist.  On 18th April, Kanyakumari went to polls along with the rest of Tamil Nadu. But as the day went by, it emerged that more than 45,000 names, mainly of those belonging to coastal villages, had been deleted from the list. Some of the people, even those who had a voting slip were not able to cast their vote and were turned away. This had led to a huge outcry in Kanyakumari both by the opposition and the missing voter, who suspect an intentional deletion of names targeted at a certain community that had been vocal in their distaste towards the centre. Now, the Tamil Nadu Election Commission had recommended re-polling in ten booths were booth capturing and voter deletion by ruling alliance was alleged. 

Section Editor: Shreyashi Tiwari | 22 May 2019 23:46pm IST

Tags : #Christian #Fishermen #Fisherfolk #Kanyakumari #Deletion #Voter_Names

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