Kerala has got a new contingent of fishermen to guard its coastline and to work as rescuers in the event of natural calamities, reported The News Minute. Known as coastal police wardens, as many 177 members of the fishing communities including five women took a pledge to work as coast guards and saviour during natural disasters.
The Indian Navy, coast guard, fire and rescue department gave them intense training for four months in sea patrolling, and inspection of boats seen under suspicious circumstances before they were formally declared coastal wardens at a passing out parade ceremony at the Kerala Police Academy in Ramavarmapuram of Thrissur on Sunday (30 June) in the presence of state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
“Those who were called as Kerala’s army during the flood have been officially included in the force,” said Pinarayi Vijayan said at the ceremony. The Chief Minister also further said that the inclusion of fishing communities into the coastal force was also a homage to them as they saved thousands of lives during the 2018 August flood.
Later in a Facebook post, the Chief Minister said: “We will soon select 23 more people from the community to make the force 200-strong, as had been declared earlier.”
The state government has fixed one year as the tenure of the coastal warden, so there is no threat of loss of jobs, the Chief Minister clarified. Also, these fishermen have been selected from coastal villages.
The new coastal wardens will be deployed at 15 coastal police stations of the 18 which are located in nine districts from north to the southern coastline in the state. The state police are of the opinion that they will prevent smuggling, human trafficking and other crimes through the sea route. As they are familiar with the weather conditions and traffic routes.
With the recruitment of the wardens, the intelligence wing of Coastal Police plans to increase public participation in the Kadalora Jagratha Samithy (Coastal Vigil Committee). Fishermen from different Unions, Fisheries Officials, Local Political representatives and concerned Circle Inspectors are also members of the Kadalora Jagratha Samithy.
The state government conceived the idea of having fishermen as coastal police wardens when it came to light that the fishing communities played a sterling role during the devastating floods in the state by saving 65,000 flood affected people. According to official figures, around 669 boats went out with 4,537 fishermen during the floods.
Further, an international research institute known as ‘Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research’ said at that time, “The role played by the fishermen who joined the rescue mission with their fishing boats was crucial. Thousands of them, mostly from the southern districts, came to the flooded regions, with more than 4,500 boats. Mobilised by trade unions and the State government’s Fisheries Department, they waded into the waters even late at night, when everybody else had returned from the rescue operations. It is estimated that more than 70,000 people were rescued by fishermen.”
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