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Fishing Community Protest On The Bharat Ratna Nomination For
M.S Swaminathan By Kerala Government

By T.Peter

18 October, 2010

In reaction to the decision of the Kerala Government to nominate
agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan for the prestigious Bharat
Ratna award of India, the fishing community has recorded their strong
protest. Responding to the decision strongly, the Kerala Swatantra
Matsya Thozhilali Federation (KSMTF) has called for a proper and
critical appraisal of Dr. Swaminathan’s contribution in both
agricultural and fisheries sector.

`The tragedy of our time is that a man once accused for the great gene
robbery by many and for playing direct role to ruin the traditional
rights of the fishing community is getting recognition by both Central
and State Governments,’ said T. Peter, President, KSMTF. `As an
agricultural scientist, Dr.Swaminathan might have been known as the
father of Green Revolution in India,but we must not forget that it is
this very reovolution that has done major harm not only to
agriculture in this country but also to fisheries. Among the reasons
for thousands of farmers committing suicide in this country, the role
of Green Revolution cannot be denied. The agro-chemicals promoted by
the Green Revolution has poisoned not just our lands but also our
water resources. The food grains and vegetables consumed by the
fishing community as well as all the citizens in this country remain
poisoned with toxic chemicals.’

Among the reservations of activists in Kerala include problems created
by chemical pesticides in agriculture in Kuttanad causing problems for
fisheries. Kuttanad, where the main production of rice in Kerala
takes place, consumes maximum pesticides causing irreversible problems
for fisheries, according to fishing community. Earlier, large scale
destruction of fish took place in the region due to `Epizootic
Ulcerative Syndrome’. Scientists have identified the role of chemical
pesticides as one of the causative factors in this burning issue.
There have also been reports of fish deformities. It is well known
that the recommendations of the committee chaired by Dr. Swaminathan
on the Coastal Regulation Zone were publicly burnt by KSMTF. The key
ground for such a reaction was that it completely and fundamentally
discarded the traditional rights of the fishing communities.

`Large scale invasion of the sea, sea bed and the coastal land have
taken place by dangerous industries, unsustainable tourism and real
estate connected with both,’ said T. Peter.`Dr. Swaminathan’s report
supported by agencies like the World Bank has only become an
instrument to strengthen this process of invasion. Though the Ministry
of Environment and Forests have now softened down a bit due to
protests of the fishing community all over the country, the struggle
is still going on to retain the community rights. The latest threat to
these rights comes in the form of the draft CRZ notification that has
been prepared based on the Swaminathan report and completely
dismissing the findings of the nationwide consultations held on the
issue by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.’

KSMTF has demanded that the scientists who have no understanding of
the impact of their science on local communities should not be
promoted by the State or Central Governments in the manner Kerala
Government is now doing by nomination of Dr. Swaminathan for Bharat

President, KSMTF