Kollam: While people of Alappad are on a hunger strike against illegal sand mining, another community along the Kollam shore is struggling to protect their land.
The residents of coastal Pallithottam who mostly live in fishermen colonies close to the port now face the threat of eviction in the name of development without any alternative.
The government has already initiated works to construct a cement terminal, waste treatment plant, natural gas unit, and tourist facilitation centres on the 33.98 acres of land adjacent to the port.
These are people evicted from Kollam - Eravipuram areas some four decades back during the construction of the port complex.
"The demand was to construct a fishing harbour for the traditional fishermen, but disregarding their concerns the port for cargo transport and tourism was set up then," said Samson Johny, secretary, Theera Desa Avakasha Samrakshana Samiti.
The people lost their shore and were evicted, which forced them to move on to Pallithottam where colonies were set up. The fishermen have conserved the remaining land area close to the sea for various purposes including securing their fishing equipment. Several people are yet to be rehabilitated.
While the authorities proceed with their project for commercial complexes, no studies on environmental impact have apparently been conducted in the area chosen for construction. The development of the port demands extensive dredging that might also affect the existence of fishermen colonies along the shore, the Samiti alleged.
In the land records, the state has allegedly altered the land title from 'coastal poramboke' to 'government poramboke' in a suspicious move to grab land from the possession of fishermen community. This is also a violation of 'voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication' - VGSSF norms passed by the United Nations in 2015. The residents demand the cancellation of GO 447/2018 based on which the 33.98 acres were handed over to the port authorities by the revenue department.
As these people face the threat of another eviction, fishermen residing in colonies in Port Kollam - Pallithottam areas have not yet been issued with title deeds for the land they pay land tax for nearly two decades....