Catholic leaders are among those opposing a multimillion-dollar overseas deep-sea fish-ing project in Kerala that they say threatens the livelihood of ordinary fisher people in the southern Indian coastal state.
Following criticism from opposition leaders and rights groups, the communist-led state government withdrew two memoranda of understanding it signed with a US-based firm that allegedly violated the state’s fishing policy and the rights of poor fisher people.
The government on Feb. 24 withdrew from the MoU signed with EMCC International India Pvt Limited, a US-based firm, for a US$680 million project that purportedly aims to revamp and modernize the state’s fishing industry.
The government also canceled another MoU with the same firm for manufacturing 400 deep-sea fishing vessels and developing the state’s fishing harbors at a cost of some $400 million.
“But still we are not sure if it has scrapped the entire project. We want an assurance from the government that it will not move ahead with the project,” said Father Jacob G. Palackappilly, deputy secretary-general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council.
Many suspect the government quickly pulled out of the MoU a week after criticism began to surface in the media in the state, where elections are due in April-May.