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Tsunami used as an opportunity by vested interests– Justice H. Suresh

Anivar Aravind | 02.01.2008 06:54 | Climate Chaos | Social Struggles | World

22/12/2007CHENNAI: In the concluding session of the two day people’s tribunal on the status of rehabilitation of tsunami, Justice H.Suresh stated that the tsunami relief work is used as an opportunity to exploit people. The tribunal organised by the Voices from the margins, a broad platform of organization of marginalized communities and support groups exposed many discrepancies and shortcomings in the tsunami rehabilitation after three years of the tsunami.

Jury panel consisted of Justice Mr. H. Suresh (retired judge, Mumbai High Court) , Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer (eminent social activist and winner of Right to Livelihood award), Dr. K.N.Panikkar (historian and former vice Chancellor, Sankaracharya University) and Dr.Yasodha Shanmugasundaram (former vice Chancellor, Mother Teresa Women’s University).The tribunal pointed out that the disaster can be natural but the crisis followed by disaster is definitely man made and it is the failure of the government to meet its obligation as per the constitution of our country.

The Jury panel observed that the ocean belongs to the communities who are living on the coast and they have a fundamental right to live there. Building any type of walls on the coast is the denial of fisher people’s right to livelihood. Justice Suresh was astonished to the fact that the survivors of tsunami are still living under pathetic conditions in what is known as ‘temporary shelters’ after three years of tsunami.

The present condition of tsunami survivors is a clear violation of article 21 of the Indian constitution that is right to live, jury panel added. The Jury strongly felt the urgent need to protect the fishing community and their customary right to coast and sea.

More than 50 tsunami survivors from the coast of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry presented their testimonies and case studies which highlighted the issues of displacement and denial of rights, livelihood, gender, Coastal Zone Regulation, tourism issues and resource utalisation and accountability.

Dr.Yasodha highlighted the gender discrimination and exclusion of women in the compensation and rehabilitation process of tsunami. She pointed out that women should part of the decision making process in order to eliminate discrimination.

Ossie Fernandes of Human Right Foundation and member of expert panel of the people’s tribunal stated that the proposed Coastal Zone Management Plan concept note is not in favour of the fisher folk and the original 1991 Coastal Regulation Zone notification has to be reinforced.

Sumesh Mangalassery an expert panel member questioned the agenda and the role of International Financial Institutions like World Bank and Asian Development Bank in the context of tsunami to develop tourism infrastructure in the coast. The increasing sex tourism and rampant child sexual abuse became a matter of concern during the tribunal

Conveners of the tribunal Mr. S.M.Prithiviraj and Poet Malathy Maitri stated that the tribunal report will be used to pressurize the government to initiate meaningful remedial action and utilize the tsunami relief fund for the welfare of fisher people.

For More details call +91 98430 80963 ( SM Prithviraj) , +91 9367757356 (Malathi Maithri)

Anivar Aravind
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