Saturday, January 01, 2005

Onsite Update :: from Siddhamma in Pulligat

Siddhamma was very satisfied with the efforts today. Namita and she went to Pulligat with the food packets. The villagers from Pettai, Sengaiamna Nagar Rajaratna Nagar, Kolathumadu had all come together since it was little later in the afternoon before
they reached there. The villagers were most concerned about their future. Not sure if they can have fishing as their main occupation. It would cost at least 14-15 lakhs. The villagers have also started a debate with the govt.

The present package of the government is only for ppl who have lost everything. There is no package for ppl who have lost just the boat and nets.

Q: What is the package the government is offering?
A: Housing free+loan without interest for boat and net. 1 lakh for ppl who have died.

Most of the ppl in Rajaratna Nagar, Kolathumadu have lost their catamarans and nets and are not going to be covered. She also found out that some homes in Pettai were also not damaged so they will also not be covered under the scheme.

The second issue is the fear of parents for their youth to go back to the sea. There are many youth in the village who have completed their +12, and have been continuing fishing with their families after that.

There was a discussion of the possibilities and the villages and the following suggestions came forward:
1) They are 15 km from the National Highway 5. The highway starts from Bombay. If the youth are trained at an ITI with they could have a lubrication center on the highway to take care of the lorries. This involves a lot of assumptions, but this is not a new proposal. They just reminded of this proposal that came up last year.
2) SIPCOT - Youth get 1 yr training in English and computers and work with the SIPCOT industries. These are their alternatives to get out of the crisis.
3) Siddhamma put forward her suggestion of the women getting some training to make fish-nets since there is a large requirement for it not just for them but also for other ppl.
Women: (suggestion by Siddhamma).
Making fish-nets - shops and training and capital for the same.

The youth of the villages are finding out about the possibilities and they will find out the info for 3 days and will be talking about the fishery department. One youth who is supported by Asha is completing his B.L. (in 3 months). He is coordinating the
efforts of the youth in the village. He has been with the ppl all through these days.

4) Background on organized fishing:
There was a boat accident a few yrs back in which a few youth had died and the Govt had officially imposed licenses that they would only provide if you had resources. However, some of the fishermen communities took this as an opportunity to come together to forced other communities not to be able to fish.

Last year there were a large number of jelly fish in this area and these were caught in large numbers by the fishermen communities. These communities also caught some of the fishes near the coast and made some livelihood out of it. Anticipating the same kind of fish this year Asha supported a fishing boat (SKI has more info). The boat is
well built and can help 10 fishermen. However, they were unable to use it since there were no jelly fish this year. The boat had been stored in the village of Kolathumadu and is the only boat that survived the disaster.

It is not clear if the natural disaster would allow the communities to work together, but maybe in time with the blessing of other villages they will be able to use if for touring tourists. (Namita suggestion). However, when there will tourism in this area is a big question.

This is the present situation.

Q: Are you aware of Balaji's (AID India) work around Pulligat the same area?
A: No, there are almost 16-20 villages in this area that are effected. Unfortunately there are no NGOs working with the trials. [I gave her all the phone numbers so that she can get in touch with them and see if they can work with her to get the resources.]

Apart from these villages there are another few Irula villages in the right side which have also been effected. We thought that other NGOs are working with them. But, some of them also came to the meeting to tell us the problem. Nandiamdakkam (60 families), Sunnabikudam (60 families) other small hamlets of around 5 families each has the same issue.
- There is also an Asha school in this area. Tomorrow Namita is going to this area and will give more reports.

Q: Just wanted to check if Namita asked about how much rice is consumed by organizations. Sorry for being a pest asking uncomfortable questions.
A: She asked and understands it now. We have increased 7 kg to 10 kg for
a week.

Q: I asked her about the all organization meet tomorrow and asked her to go to it.
A: She said that DP contacted her about it.

Update from Killai

Youth have made a list of requirements, but couldn't convey them by phone. I will be there on monday and work with them and the govt for a few days.