Six injured as fishermen protest turns violent
By Express News Service - VISAKHAPATNAM
29th June 2012 10:11 AM
The otherwise peaceful village of Pittavanipalem in Parawada mandal turned violent Thursday when CISF jawans of the NTPC-Simhadri Super Thermal Power Plant (SSTPP) caned fishermen who were staging a sit-in outside the plant.
While four fishermen were injured in the lathicharge, a village revenue officer and an assistant sub-inspector of police received injuries in the subsequent stone pelting by the agitators. The CISF personnel fired six rounds in the air to disperse them. Fisherman S Maseen, who was injured seriously, was rushed to King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam and is stated to be out of danger.
According to the police, hundreds of fishermen, including women, of Thikkavanipalem gathered outside the power plant demanding removal of an NTPC pipeline allegedly releasing factory waste into the sea, which in turn is affecting their livelihood. The agitators wanted the Simhadri-NTPC unit to either remove the pipeline or provide alternative employment to the fishermen.
The CISF jawans guarding the premises first resorted to lathicharge to which the angry mob retaliated by throwing stones. Then, the CISF jawans fired six rounds in the air to disperse them, but in vain. As the situation turned violent, a large number of policemen from nearby areas were rushed to the village.
“When we are losing our livelihood due to SSTPP’s pollution, what is wrong in pointing it out? The management and police cannot threaten us. We want to protect our livelihood or let them compensate us with Rs 5 lakh and a job to each family. We will not allow any activities till our demands are met even if we lose our lives,” members of the Fishermen Ikya Porata Samiti said. Opposition parties, including TDP and YSR Congress, along with several people’s associations expressed their support to the fishermen.
Learning about the incident, fishermen from the neighbouring villages of Mutyalammapalem and Thikkavanipalem rushed to the power plant to join the protest.
According to the fishermen, the SSTPP unit is releasing fly-ash mixed water into the sea. “As a result, there is no fish catch up to 5-10 nautical miles. For the last five years, we are hardly able to have two meals a day,” the fishermen said.
The leaders of fishermen community initially decided to continue the stir and not allow SSTPP employees and CISF personnel to operate the pump house from which waste water is released into the sea every week. But after discussions with the Visakhapatnam district collector Lav Agarwal, commissioner of police J Purnachandra Rao and senior officials of SSTPP, they reportedly temporarily put it on hold after the officials assured them of solving their problem the next day.
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