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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 15:01 GMT
Indian papers attack 'tsunami politics'
An Indian fisherman in Tamil Nadu
Thousands of fishermen have lost their livelihoods

The deaths of thousands of Indians from fishing families in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have sparked anger at the authorities in newspapers across the south.

In the Keralan city of Thiruvananthapuram, near the border with Tamil Nadu where over half of mainland India's victims died, the Malayala Manorama reports on local anger at what is seen as inadequate relief efforts.

"The people of the coastal belt of Kerala who lost everything in the tsunami disaster turned their ire against the politicians," it says.

Top regional politicians who visited the area, adds the commentary, were rightly given an angry reception for what it calls their "tsunami politics".

"The one-upmanship by politicians was so disgusting that even Kerala Chief Minister Chandy, his cabinet colleagues, and opposition leader VS Achuthanandan were not spared by the coastal people.

"While the chief minister was surrounded by fish workers accusing the government of failing to organise relief activities," it continues, "the tsunami-hit simply asked Achuthanandan to stop making speeches and go away."

Human error

A commentator in the daily Eenadu agrees that the plight of the survivors did not seem to be uppermost in the minds of Indian politicians.

"Even before the complete assessment of the loss of lives caused by the tsunami, Home Affairs Minister Shivraj Patil announced that it was not a national disaster, with the sole aim of diffusing the demand by former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to include it as one."

It is the fault of the official machinery for its failure to alert people about the impending disaster of the tsunami

Another writer in the same paper believes that the authorities' errors began even before the tsunami hit.

"It is the fault of the official machinery for its failure to alert people about the impending disaster of the tsunami, in spite of having a full 150 minutes from when the earthquake occurred."

"The authorities cannot escape responsibility by saying that it was a holiday," the article, entitled "Human error causes great havoc", adds.

A commentary in Malayala Manorama puts the blame on the relief agencies for the slow arrival of aid.

"While the local administration and state government undoubtedly mounted a massive effort after an initial slow start," it says, "there was little coordination among the agencies involved in relief operations."


The papers also look to the future, some considering lessons to be learned from the disaster, others the long-term effects of the tsunami on the devastated local fishing industry.

An editorial in independent Chennai (Madras) newspaper Dinamani suggests an early warning system in the Indian Ocean as well as measures centred on the local population.

The tsunami has left a long-lasting impact on the state's fishing sector
Kerala's Mathrubhumi

It proposes building shelters for fishermen, banning permanent structures on the seashore and setting up an information system to warn the coastal population and training them in crisis management in the wake of natural disasters.

But a commentary in Kerala's Mathrubhumi thinks new disaster-prevention measures will not help the region's vital fishing industry to recover.

"The tsunami has left a long-lasting impact on the state's fishing sector," it says.

"The loss of men and materials apart, the tsunami is bound to have an impact on the marine ecosystem of the state, the most productive region in the south-west coast of peninsular India."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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