Fishermen threaten to block National Waterway III

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Alappuzha, Oct 16 (UNI) As preparations are on to open the 205 km-long National Waterway III (NW III) in Kerala on November one, fishermen unions have threatened to block the way, accusing the authorities of not fulfilling the promises made to them.

The NW III, between Kollam and Kottapuram, is a landmark in water transportation in the country and is expected to substantially reduce the cost of cargo movement in Kerala.

Six districts in the state -- Malappuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Kollam -- were the direct beneficiaries of the waterway, which would be declared open on November one, the Kerala Formation Day.

However, fresh protests are brewing against the waterway, which got delayed by several years due to opposition from fishermen.

The Kollam-Kottapuram waterway was declared as NW III in 1993 and dredging work began to deepen the water channels in some portions.

The fishermen in the northern part of Alappuzha opposed the dredging for the waterway as they did not want to relocate their Chinese fishing nets in the NW III route.

They gave up their protest only after they were promised adequate compensation and substitute fishing materials.

Presently, the 'Dheevara Sabha', the 'Oonnivala Thozhilali Union' and 'Oonnivala Owners Society' were accusing the Inland Water Development Authority and the state government of not fulfilling the promises made to them.

The removal of the nets would render hundreds of fishermen jobless, they said.

They had threatened to obstruct the waterway, till the authorities fulfill the assurances given to them.

The unions had raised apprehensions about possible soil erosion as there were no concrete pitches at several places and narrow gaps between the waterway and the bank, and warned of loss of several species of fish.

UNI

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