Three months after the Ockhi cyclone that wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, hordes of boats and fisherman are once again missing off the southern coast of India.
Speaking to reporters in Chennai on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister RB Udayakumar said, “A low pressure belt has formed in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari coast. It is moving towards north- north west. An announcement was made by the MET department on Tuesday at 8 am that wind speeds would be up to 40- 50 kmph and extending up to 60 kmph. Fishermen were warned not to head into the sea especially in the southern coast, Gulf of Mannar and Kanyakumari coast. No danger was announced in north TN coast.”
Tamil Nadu has received scanty rainfall over the past couple of days owing to a depression in the Bay of Bengal.
Quoting official figures, the Minister said, “For the past 24 hours, 10 districts in TN have received rainfall. Ramanthapuram has recorded 8.82 mm, Thirunelveli 7.09 mm, Sivagangai - 5.34 mm and Kanyakumari a minimum of 0.26 mm of rainfall. We received this information two days ago. Our Relief Commissioner directly announced this to all district officers to be passed on to all fishermen.”
However, for fishermen in Kanyakumari the anxiety is hauntingly familiar. Speaking to TNM, one fisherman from Kanyakumari said, “Around 500 of them went to sea ten days ago. 300 have anchored to shore on two islands in the Lakshwadeep, the Kalpeni and Kavaratti. We have not been able to contact the 200 missing fishermen since Saturday. They are in 40- 50 boats. On Saturday, we received warning from the Navy and Coast Guard asking us not to venture out to sea.”
“We hope they are fishing,” he anxiously adds.
Speaking to reporters about the boats that have returned, RB Udayakumar said, “In Kanyakumari, 553 multi-day fishing boats went inside and so we could not reach them. 502 have been brought back safely due to the action taken by Fisheries Department. 15 boats from Ramanad have returned. 135 boats from Thoothukudi have returned. 51 boats are yet to return. 1074 motorized boats that went have all returned.”
(This is a developing story.)