Thiruvananthapuram: The Latin Catholic Church has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in strengthening the relief operations in the aftermath of cyclone Ockhi. A Church delegation led by Archbishop M. Soosa Pakiam, which met Governor P. Sathasivam here on Tuesday, also urged the Prime Minister to visit the affected areas. The delegation submitted a petition to the governor highlighting the Centre’s lapses in mitigating the disaster. It had earlier expressed its disappointment over the state government’s inadequate response to the calamity. The Church asked the Centre to put in place a permanent mechanism to predict such eventualities and declare cyclone Ockhi as a national disaster.
It wanted a separate fisheries ministry at the centre and a permanent safety mechanism for fishermen. There should be efficient coordination among the Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation, Marine Enforcement, Coastal Police, Coast Guard and fisheries department. The authorities had failed to issue timely cyclone warning to the fishermen, it said. The governor apprised the archbishop about the steps already taken by the centre, state and the armed forces in the rescue operations.
He forwarded the petition to the Prime Minister, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, defence minister Nirmala Seetharaman and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for further action. The Church submitted to the governor the copies of the data along with the photographs of those missing in the tragedy. As per its figures, over 300 fishermen were still missing, while the official estimate is 95. Though the meeting was scheduled for Monday, it was postponed after the Raj Bhavan march organised by the Church got delayed. Auxiliary Bishop Christudas Rajappan and Vicar-General Fr Eugene H. Pereira also accompanied the archbishop.