Kerala Latin church flags concerns against LDF, NDA over fishing projects

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Kollam, Mar 21 (PTI) The Latin Church on Sunday targeted the Kerala and the Central governments, claiming there was an 'organised effort' to destroy the fishing sector and sell it to corporates, drawing strong reaction from state Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma who accused it of speaking for the opposition Congress-led UDF.

A pastoral letter, issued by the Kollam diocese of the Latin church in the assembly poll-bound Kerala, said the ruling regimes at the state and the Centre were 'devising destructive legislations' to destroy Kerala's fisherfolk.

Targeting the LDF government in the state, it said 'the controversial agreement with a foreign company, EMCC, was withdrawn following widespread opposition'.

The fishing community should also be aware of 'Blue Economy' project, a move by the central government giving permission for mining for resources from the sea, it said.

Reacting to the letter, read out in the churches during the Sunday mass, Mercykutty Amma, the LDF candidate from Kundara in the coastal Kollam district in the April 6 polls, sought to know why the church was speaking for the opposition Congress-led UDF.

She said many faithful had called her up. 'For whom has the church come out with such a letter? Why should the church speak for the UDF?' the Minister asked.

The Church letter alleged attempts were being made to destroy the fishing sector in the name of tourism and the governments have already completed the process for many similar legislations affecting the livelihoods of fishermen.

Joining issue, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala accused the Centre and the state government of taking steps to 'sell the ocean' which will affect the livelihood of the fishing folk.

'The UDF is always with the fishermen. It was the intervention of the opposition that stopped the deep sea fishing from being sold to corporates,' he said, referring to the state government cancelling two MoUs with the EMCC after the UDF raised various allegations.

'The UDF assures that once the we come to power, we will take steps to address the concerns of the Kollam Bishop,' he added. PTI RRT VS VS