New Indian Express – Protest against SILK Unit to be Intensified

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27 May 2014 - KANNUR:Alleging that the district authorities have given additional time to the ship-breaking unit of the Steel Industrials Kerala Ltd (SILK) to obtain licences from the Pollution Control Board and the civic body, the Kappalpoli Virudha Samithi (Committee against Ship-breaking) has decided to extend its stir to various parts of the district.

A protest meeting was held at Puthiyatheru on Monday which was inaugurated by Dr D Surendranath. Similar meets will be held at Mattool and Valapattanam in the next two days, committee leader M K Manoharan said.

He alleged that the District Collector had failed to make any effective intervention in the issue of environmental and health hazards caused by the ship-breaking unit, and that he was compelled to yield to the pressure tactics of political forces. Protesting against the Collector’s stance, the stir would be extended to the Civil Station premises soon.

“Prominent political parties like the CPM, IUML and the Congress have been adopting an apathetic stance towards the issue and it is suspected that the benamis of some leaders have links with the ship-breaking industry,” Manoharan alleged.Hundreds of people took part in the mass satyagraha held on Sunday.

Artist Mohammed T had made a sand sculpture symbolising the men crushed beneath the ‘pollutant’ ships brought for dismantling. “The sculpture is dedicated to the common men of Azhikkal who joined the protest and have been isolated by powerful political groups,” protest committee member Shajahan said.

The protesting locals including fishermen alleged that Azhikode MLA K M Shaji, who took pride in being labelled as a ‘green MLA’, was viewing the protest with scant regard.

The MLA was not available for comment.

Yet to Discuss Issue: CPM

The CPM is yet to discuss the alleged environmental and occupational hazards associated with the ship-breaking unit of the SILK at Azhikkal, district secretary P Jayarajan has said. He was speaking to ‘Express’ on Monday in the wake of trade unions, including the CITU, taking a pro-SILK stance. “Since no one has raised the issue before the party, there has not been a chance for the CPM to seriously involve in the issue,” he said.

When asked about the alleged miserable working conditions of migrant workers at the ship-breaking site, he said that the agitators were not raising the problems of workers but they were more concerned about environmental issues.