When the blame game is on against the lax on the part of the state government in issuing the warning on Cyclone Ockhi, Poonthura parish priest Father Justin Judin told DC that he had informed the authorities of missing fishers by 12 pm Thursday. While the fisheries minister J. Mercy Kutty Amma offered all help to bring the Navy and Coast Guard vessels, he feels, it was “probably” the intervention of Dr Shashi Tharoor MP that led Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman to send them for rescue missions in the deep sea.
Fr Judin said when panic gripped coastal Poonthura and neighbouring areas, he immediately alerted various state agencies and politicians cutting across party affiliations. But only by Thursday evening, the authorities sprang into action after sensing that “all is not well”. “Ms Amma made the promise by Thursday night, but to no avail. By Friday 4 am, these services were into action, and probably Dr Tharoor’s intervention with defence minister Ms Seetharaman speeded up the process,” the priest told DC.
The lawmaker had tweeted to Ms Seetharaman requesting her intervention, which led her to send six vessels and three ships of Coast Guard for the rescue mission. In fact, the timely intervention of Dr Tharoor enabled the authorities to send vessels to Kanyakumari and Tuticorin as well, which Ms Sitharaman tweeted. At 7.28 am on Friday, she tweeted back to Dr Tharoor: "ICGS Samarth sails from Kochi for rescue. All seven units are directed to work on rescue along and off Kerala coast. Ship C-427 around Vizhinjam also on rescue. In addition, the Eastern Naval Command will launch P8i Maritime Patrol aircraft." The defence minister called Dr Tharoor several times to report on the developments when he informed her that 280 fishermen were missing. He also took to the Twitter to thank her for promptly returning his calls.