NATIONAL FISHWORKERS’ FORUM (NFF)
(A Federation of State Level Trade Unions in India)
Central Office Delhi Office
NFF F 10/12 Malviya Nagar
20/4 SIL LANE, New Delhi – 110 017
Kolkatta-700015. India Reg.No:487/85 Tel: 011-26680 883, 26680914
Tel/Fax: +91 33 23283989 Fax: 011 26687724
Matanhy Saldanha, Chairperson, [email protected], Ph: 09822160941
R.K. Patil, General Secretary, [email protected], Ph: 09892833815

 

Kind attention of
Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh,
PM Office, South Block, New Delhi
Date: 23rd March 2012

Sub: Fishworker community’s distress over your statement on the fisher people’s struggle in Kudankulam & the undemocratic way the struggle is being crushed

Hon’ble Dr. Manmohan Singhji,

We write to you, from all the coastal states of India, to express the fishworker community’s anger over the decision of your government to forcefully go ahead with the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which is being set up in Idindakarai, Tamil Nadu. We would like to remind you that this project is not something that has been evolved with the consent of the affected populations and smacks of absolute colonial attitude of a dictatorial regime, which does not care for the opinion of the subjects.

We also write to you to communicate our abject disappointment over your statement regarding the fisher people of Idindakarai. In an interview published by the Science magazine on 24 February 2012, you alleged that the fisher community’s protest against the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam was propagated and funded by anti-national interests through international NGOs. A statement such as this from the highest political authority in the country, while being far from the truth, shows the fisher community in poor light.

The fish workers make earnest living and are a self sufficient community. Our earnings, which are well above the minimum wages set by the state governments, are adequate to support our lives and ideals. In your eagerness to defend the proposed nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, you have attacked the dignity of the fisher people.

The fisher people of Idindakarai have come together to raise genuine fears and reservations regarding the proposed nuclear power plant. Tens of thousands of people, including the fisher community, have contributed small amounts of money towards this struggle and they have been absolutely transparent about their income and expenses. It is a pity that our Prime Minister has chosen to ignore that neither does a hunger strike by common people depend on financial support and nor does it require big finance from foreign groups. A high powered committee of experts was appointed to ‘allay the fears’ of our people, taking it for granted that people’s fears were totally misplaced. On the contrary, your wisdom will agree that you or the expert panel have no solution if a Fukushima-like situation were to arise on our coast and sea!

A suggestion that our people’s well-meaning protest is merely the result of instigation by ‘foreign’ NGOs is both demeaning and humiliating. Carrying forward your statement, media reports make out as if the fisher people of Kudankulam lack the intelligence to decide over such fundamental issues, for themselves.

The three separate incidents of death of fishermen in Kerala, & Tamil Nadu (due to attack by international big vessels) within the last month have placed the lives and livelihoods of the fisher community at stake. It is extremely worrying that, apart from remaining silent over such critical issues of citizens’ life and livelihood, the Prime Minister has chosen to target the fisher community of Idindakarai in the statement over their opposition to Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

We ask that you to retract the above mentioned statement and apologise to the more than millions of fisher people of this country. We also demand that the undemocratically evolved Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant proposal be shelved, keeping in mind the interest of the affected people and the security of our country and citizens. No exaggerated figures of power production will be enough to compensate for the loss of lives and livelihood of our people.

Sincerely,

MATANHY SALDANHA
R. K. PATIL
(Chairperson, NFF) (General Secretary, NFF)
T. Peter, Vasudev Boloor & Pradip Chatterjee
Secretaries, National Fishworkers’ Forum
Agnelo Rodrigues, Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott, Goa
Bharat Patel, Machimar Adhikar Kruti Samiti, Gujarat
Debasis Shyamal, Dakshinbanga Matsyajeebi Forum, West Bengal
Dr.R.V.Kumaravelu, Vangakadal Meen Thozhilalar Sangam, Tamil Nadu
K Alaya, Odisha Traditional Fishworkers’ Union, Odisha
Narendra Patil, Maharashtra Machchimar Kruti Samiti, Maharashtra
Peter Dass, Tamil Nadu Fishworkers’ Union, Tamil Nadu
PP John, Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, Kerala
T K Rahiman, Traditional Fish Workers’ Union, Andhra Pradesh

 

Shri. Matanhy Saldanha co-drafted & endorsed this open letter as on 15th March 2012 and since then the statement has been taking rounds among state unions of fishers for endorsements. This is being sent to the Prime Minister’s office & released to the National Media on the 23rd March 2012. People of Goa are joined by the entire India’s fisherpeople and other struggle groups in mourning the great leader’s death, which occurred on the 21st March 2012, due to a massive heart attack. Matanhy was sworn in as Goa’s Minister on the 9th march 2012, in charge of Tourism, Environment & Forests. This is his last statement, in his official capacty as Chairperson, NFF