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How Rescue Operations by Kerala Fisherman Can be a Case Study in Disaster Management

On Saturday, out of the 54,000 persons rescued in Ernakulam district, 18,000 were saved by fishermen who deployed 240 boats there.

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Updated:August 20, 2018, 12:46 PM IST
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How Rescue Operations by Kerala Fisherman Can be a Case Study in Disaster Management
Kerala Flood Fisherman Cartoon by Mir Suhail
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New Delhi: The devastating deluge in Kerala witnessed the emergence of fishermen as saviours when hundreds decided to brave through flood-waters to venture into areas where even naval commandos could not reach. This can also be an important case study world-wide for people in disaster management.

With about 600 country vessels, they ventured into the most remote corners of the affected areas. On Saturday, out of the 54,000 persons rescued in Ernakulam district, 18,000 were saved by fishermen who deployed 240 boats there.

Most of the fishermen came from the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Malappuram, Kannur, Trissur and Ernakulam.

Operating in their mechanised country boats in furious waters in places like Chengannur, Kuttanad, Chalakudy, Mala, Kodungallur, Aluva, North Paravur among others, they rescued thousands from houses and buildings where helicopters couldn't reach.

When the single-engine country boats were finding it difficult to cut through the strong current, fishermen decided to deploy double-engine boats to wade through. Kerala Swanthantra Matsyathozhilali Federation has also set up regional centres to co-ordinate the mission. Each team on the field has been assigned a leader who has been directed to work with revenue authorities, police and disaster management team.

The fishermen also arranged their fuel and food expenses themselves before the state stepped in.

National Fish Workers Co-ordination forum secretary T Peter said the fishermen ventured into the rescue mission spontaneously. “When we put out the suggestion in social media groups, many fishermen expressed their willingness to join the rescue work. The fishermen took it up as their responsibility. When our social media groups got distress calls and messages about people stranded in submerged houses, we passed on the location details to the fishermen,” he said.

A control room has been opened at Chengannur by the fisheries department as per orders from the fisheries minister. The control room will co-ordinate rescue efforts undertaken by fishermen and their vessels. Staff of the department will be appointed as nodal officers at a ratio of one officer per 10 country boats. Sufficient boats have also been arranged for the boats by state-run agencies.

Acknowledging the fishermen’s service, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday announced that all the fishermen who took part in the rescue mission would be felicitated. “The fishermen had intervened in a great way. Many of their vessels got damaged. The government would compensate them for the loss suffered. Apart from that, a boat would be given Rs 3,000 a day and the state would meet the fuel expenses,’’ he said.
| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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