Thiruvananthapuram: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor recommended Kerala fishermen, whose deeds of courage were the main highlight of the 2018 Kerala floods rescue ops, for the Nobel Peace Prize.
"It was during the height of this tragedy that fishermen groups of Kerala, at great risk to their lives and potential damage to the boats that are the source of their livelihood, jumped into the fray to save their fellow citizens," he wrote in a letter.
"They took their boats inland, and with their expert knowledge of the local conditions, their participation in the ongoing relief operations proved to be a gamechanger, as not only were they able to pick up stranded personnel in their vicinity, but were also instrumental in guiding boats of other rescue teams amidst the swirling waters."
"Fishermen groups across the country represent some of the most socio-economically underdeveloped segments. Kerala's fishermen are no exception."
"In spite of these conditions, as their lifesaving service during the floods clearly demonstrated, there is an extraordinarily altruistic spirit that animates and drives these coastal warriors of the state. The lasting image of a fisherman bending low in the water so as to allow an older person he had rescued to climb on his back and get on his boat is a particularly striking reflection of this spirit that has been etched into the hearts of a grateful community," he wrote.
Braving driving rain and raging waters, fishermen from Kerala had rescued 65,000 marooned people from flood hit areas in the state during rescue operations, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma had earlier said. In the worst hit Pathanamthitta district alone, about 70 per cent of the total number of people marooned were rescued by local fishermen who had to work in inclement weather, she said. "Fishermen in 669 mechanised country boats rescued a total of 65,000 people marooned in all districts, braving the torrential rains and floods," she said.
The minister said the government had a clear vision when it decided to prepare fishermen from the sea coast for rescue operations. The fisheries department resolved to field the fishermen for rescue operations on August 15 when the state started experiencing unusually heavy rains and floods. Announcements were made through mikes in areas around their homes, including along the Kollam coast, urging the fishermen to launch rescue operations in flooded inland areas, Mercykutty Amma said.
They responded and came from far and near, transporting their mechanised country boats in trucks seized by the government for the purpose, she said. Many fishermen who had ventured into the sea were called back and sent for rescue operations, she said.