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A program unit of Centre
for Promotion of Social Concerns
The Cyclonic Apartheid
Report by People’s Inquest Team

Hundreds of fishermen from the Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu are still missing since Cyclone Ockhi ravaged the Arabian Sea coast on November 30, 2017. Even as the cyclone remains etched in the minds of several local fishing families affected by it, it has been instrumental in exposing India’s failed disaster management. A group of civil society organisations united by this opportunity to study this failed disaster management machinery, brought together a team of experts, formed a people’s inquest team, led by the Retd. Judge of the Mumbai High Court, Mr. Kholse Patil, and set out to visit all the affected coastal, interior villages and a tribal settlement in the district and gather information. What happened next was far from what the people’s inquest team imagined their fact-finding mission would encompass; village after village, fisherfolk and agricultural labourers alike, gathered to meet the team and placed on record their grievances, their anger, their stories of struggle, courage, endurance and discrimination. All testimonials pointed to the gross negligence of the state and district administration, that failed to issue an early warning which could have saved the lives of hundreds of fishermen and protected the livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk dependant on them. Widowed women, orphaned children, abandoned elderly persons, survivors, who watched as their fellow fishermen were defeated one-after-the other by the perilous vastness of the sea, farmers who watched as their banana plants and coconut trees bent over to let winds traveling at nearly 200 km per hour pass by, took turns to question the inaction of the government and shared their tragic stories of loss of life and livelihood with the people’s inquest team. ‘The Cyclonic Apartheid’ is a joint effort by a few civil society organisations and socially-conscious individuals, to place before the Government of India, all state and district functionaries and the National Human Rights Commission, the extent of loss, damage and destruction caused when crucial emergency systems fail in a State and put forth recommendations, urging swift implementation of the same on the basis of factual evidence, to ensure non-repetition of a natural disaster being turned into a man-made one.  

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