Thiruvananthapuram: The sons of the sea are being lauded for their courage, dedication and humanity as Kerala battles a calamity. Fishermen in Kerala proved that they have no peers in daring mission in perilous waters as they joined the state's efforts to rescue thousands stranded in flooded areas.
Operating in their mechanised country boats in furious waters in places like Chengannur, Kuttanad, Chalakudy, Mala, Kodungallur, Aluva, North Paravur etc, they rescued thousands from houses and buildings where helicopters couldn't access. Their country boats could cut even through dangerous gush of water, which the rubber boats found it difficult to overcome.
Most of the fishermen came from the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Malappuram, Kannur, Thrissur and Ernakulam. Their courage and the experience of life in the waters helped the task.
The fishing community chipped in for the transportation and food expenses during the rescue operations. The fisheries department entered the scene only later.
Thiruvananthapuram district takes the credit for nearly 500 fishermen rescuers and over 250 boats. The Latin Archdiocese had sent nearly 60 boats in lorries to Pathanamthitta area three days ago.
Fisheries regional deputy director Beena Sukumaran said 202 people are in the rescue mission on 76 mechanised country boats under the aegis of the department.
Kollam City Police said the fishermen who came from Kollam district with their country boats rescued nearly 8,000 people from Mavelikkara and Kadapra areas alone.
Fishermen from Malappuram, Thrissur and Kannur districts are active in Chalakudy, Mala and Kodungallur areas. They searched for stranded people in Chalakudy on their mechanised country boats in small flooded roads and fields. The boats were pulled up near houses and people were taken out. Thrissur district alone received assistance from 11 boats of Kannur district, and 10 of Malappuram, apart from 15 belonging to Thrissur itself.
The entry of fishermen had brought dramatic speed to rescue efforts in Chengannur, Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad. They were also in the forefront of efforts to provide water and food to relief camps.
Fisheries minister J Mercykutty offered a big cheer to the fishermen, calling their work a model and a relief.
Control room in Chengannur
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. The Matsyafed will send five new engines to replace the malfunctioned ones in boats. Sufficient fuel has also been arranged for the boats.