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Oluvil harbour displaces thousands of fishermen…

Written By NAFSO on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | 4:37:00 PM

NAFSO continues to engage and research the land issue which has arisen due to the development of the Oluvil Harbour that is located at Oluvil on the east coast of Sri Lanka, 8 km north of Akkaraipatthu and 17km south of Kalmunai .A small delegation of NAFSO Media unit met some muslim fishermen in the east coast to further assess the situation and to gather more details on the issue of displacing fishermen and loosing their livelihood in the name of development with the process of “Eastern awakening”

Fishermen were fishing in the limited area of the sea, while construction for Oluvil harbour carries on in the background We met with the fishermen of the harbour area, the mosque leader too (as he has a strong role in the community), and a women’s group of fishers’ wives. According to them, the situation has not been changed and it seems people have given up continuing their struggle forward at least to gain their promised compensation on their lands.

According to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), On March 13, 2008 (SLPA) and the Danish contractor Mt Hojgaard signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of Oluvil Port Project in Sri Lanka. The Oluvil Port Development Plan includes construction of a commercial port and a basin for big fishing vessels and it’s not for the small scale fishermen.

“The government, however, is going to declare those harbour areas as an high security zone therefore what will happen to the fishing communities afterwards? Most fish are in the habour area and we want government allow continuing fishing in the harbour area. But we are not sure whether they will allow us to continue our fishing in the port area” Nijabhdeen Razuk a local fishermen.

“Since many decades our fishermen had been earning their living along the coast, which is now set aside exclusively for large ships and tourist boats. More than 1,000 people, Muslims and Tamils, will lose their land facing the sea, "This harbor is not for the benefit of the small scale fishers or their fishing boats at all. This is a commercial harbor and will displace Ouluvil fishing communities more and more” Abdul Majeed a small scale fisherman.

NAFSO is willing to open a dialogue between these communities and the government on this situation speaking with the interim District Secretariat of the area aw well as the responsible authorities too.

If government is not ready to pave the way for surviving small scale fishermen any further too providing compensation for them, NAFSO will take the leadership to awake the fishermen island wide to fight against this injustice.

By: Shamith Roshan
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