Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding a comprehensive special financial package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep for rehabilitation of families of fishermen who died due to Cyclone Ockhi. In his first letter as the Congress chief to the prime minister, he requested Modi to help put in place adequate measures for strengthening the weather update system and advance cyclone warning communication mechanism in the coastal areas. Highlighting the suffering of cyclone-hit fishermen, whom he met during his recent visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu on December 14, Gandhi said the cyclone has caused tremendous damage to their lives and livelihood. “In these challenging times, our fishermen deserve a helping hand from our government,” he said.
Gandhi urged the prime minister to take all necessary measures for rehabilitation of fishermen and restoration of their traditional vocation. Being one of the most underprivileged sections of the society, these fishermen yearn for succour and hand holding from our government, he said. “I would request you to declare a comprehensive special financial package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and union territory of Lakshadweep to undertake rehabilitation, provide financial assistance to the families of the deceased fishermen and for the overall development of the coastal region,” he said.
Gandhi also asked the prime minister to take steps to prevent such a tragedy, to the extent possible. He said fishermen in the coastal region depend solely on fishing and related activities as their only means of livelihood and are a vital economic resource of our economy. “I urge you to take holistic measures for ensuring housing, basic health services and quality education for their children,” he said.
Gandhi said the impact of the cyclone has brought to light the urgent need to ensure adequate measures for strengthening the weather update system and advance cyclone warning communication mechanism in the coastal areas and for providing life saving instruments for the fishermen sailing to the sea. “May I also emphasise the need to construct sea-walls and groynes in the vulnerable sea coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu,” he urged the prime minister.