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Rahul Gandhi visits Cyclone Ockhi-hit districts in Kerala, TN; says it’s time for a separate fishery ministry

Over 500 fishermen are still missing since Cyclone Ockhi hit the coastline of Kerala and Tamil Nadu last month.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 14, 2017 6:12:06 pm
Rahul Gandhi visits Cyclone Ockhi-hit districts in Kerala, TN Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to victims of Cyclone Ockhi in Kerala on Thursday (Source: Twitter/@INCIndia)

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi Thursday arrived in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and paid tributes to Cyclone Ockhi victims. He also visited other districts of the state and Tamil Nadu, including Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Chinnathurai, Thaikkad and Palayam, where he interacted with residents of fishing villages. Over 500 fishermen are still missing since the cyclone hit the coastline of the southern states last month.

In Kerala’s Vizhinjam, Rahul said, “I understand that fishermen suffer tremendously. You suffer every day, have a troubled life and every now and then you face situation like this. I express my sympathy to all those who lost their family members.” He also said it’s time that fishermen also have their own ministry to expedite challenges quickly. “I think it is time that fishermen also have their ministry at the central level so that their difficulties can be dealt with quickly and immediately.”

Gandhi had earlier scheduled events in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city, which were called off due to the cyclone. Search operations are underway to locate the fishermen who reportedly ventured deap-sea before the cyclone hit.

Also read | Fortnight after Cyclone Ockhi, a stoic wait for the missing — ‘until Christmas’

“When a tragedy happens, everyone must learn from the tragedy and avoid such a situation in future. We must have a better system of warning for the fishermen who are going to the sea,” Gandhi said, reported news agency PTI. “Some of you have lost sons, some of you lost husbands. This loss cannot be replaced…we will try to make your life as comfortable as possible,” he added.

Gandhi also drew a parallel between fishermen and farmers, saying both sectors were “facing a very difficult time.”

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswamy had visited cyclone-hit areas on Tuesday. He had increased compensation for the kin of fishermen who died to Rs 20 lakh. A day later, on Wednesday, the government raised the compensation to kin of non-fishermen to Rs 10 lakh.

In Kerala, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government Wednesday said put the death toll in the state due to Ockhi to 66; two more bodies were recovered off the coast of Kochi on Tuesday night, officials said, reported PTI.

Vijayan also said the government was planning to set up a system, in association with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to ensure safety of fishermen, reported PTI.

Residents of both states have been protesting against their respective governments for the delay in sending warnings and subsequent poor response to the cyclone.

(With inputs from PTI)

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