Voice of the fisherfolk

Journalist K A Shaji’s new documentary talks about the lives of fisherfolk struggling with sea erosion
Still from the documentary
Still from the documentary

Thiruvananthapuram’s coastal areas have been facing severe sea erosion for the past few years. Many fisherfolk who lost their home to sea attack live in rehabilitation camps. Journalist K A Shaji’s new documentary focuses on coastal erosion and debates the idea that Vizhinjam international port construction activities contributed to this. 

Titled Stolen Shorelines, the 35-minute documentary tries to capture the life of coastal areas. It voices the concerns of fisherfolk and alleges that port construction activities causes sea erosion. The documentary talks about their trials and tribulations, and struggle to bring this issue to the fore.

Written and directed by K A Shaji, the documentary showcases how fishing villages like Kovalam, Vizhinjam, Veli, Valiyathura, Kallumoodu, Bheemapalli and Muttathara have been affected by sea erosion. Shaji, who used to frequently visit Vizhinjam and other coastal villages to write news stories, wanted to narrate their struggles to a bigger audience. 

The documentary has visuals captured over a year worth of conversations with fisherfolk where they talk about their struggles. “Human interventions amplify coastal and environmental degradation. We documented the changes happening in the coastal areas. After speaking to experts, I found that port construction caused it. This issue affects the lives and livelihoods of fisherfolk. It shouldn’t be taken lightly,” said Shaji.

Environmental activist AJ Vijayan says in the documentary that Vizhinjam isn’t a natural port and building an artificial port has led to coastal erosion and accretion. “This causes beaches to erode and affects natural sediment transport. As the construction activities at the port progresses, it will lead to further environmental disasters,” said Vijayan. 

The documentary will be released on June 5, World Environment Day. It will be screened in Valiyathura in the presence of the coastal community and field experts. Shaji hopes to screen the documentary across the country and generate awareness about the issue. “This is a larger environmental issue and the documentary was conceived on those lines,” says Shaji. 

Syed Shiyaz Mirza and Sooraj Ambalathara handled the camera. Kalyani Vallath is the narrator, while Roshni Rajan, Bhavapriya J U, Salini Reghunandan and Archana Kala Sajikumar took care of research and documentation. Kannan Mamoo made the sketches and posters were designed by Shafeek  Subaida Hakkim. 

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