09 March, 2021

A Perfect Storm Of Apathy

Cyclone Ockhi: 29 Kerala fishermen dead and 130 still missing. An indifferent bureaucracy bears the blame.

For Dear Life
Fishermen on a storm-tossed boat off Kozhikode
Photograph by The New Indian Express
A Perfect Storm Of Apathy

A wave of sorrow seizes the huddle of fisherwomen under a red pavilion in the St Thomas churchyard in Poonthura, a fishing village in Thiruvananthapuram. Their lamentations swell as, rosaries in hand, they grieve in solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones to Cyclone Ockhi which grazed Kerala on November 30. Of the 130 fishermen still missing, 69 are from the three fishing villages of Poonthura, Vizhinjam and Adimalathura—and they have already buried seven. Their grief is compounded by the fact that the Kerala state government failed to issue a warning on the afternoon of November 29, the day it was notified by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that a deep depression was strengthening and moving towards the coast. Even as fax messages and emails were received by the let­hargic, sterile government offices, 304 traditional fishermen from Thiruvananthapuram (according to Latin Catholic church figures), and scores of others along Kerala’s coast had set out that very evening in their small country craft made of plywood, to fish through the night....

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