Chennai: Fisherfolk at Ennore have reached their wits end after repeated demands to government to check encroachment and pollution caused by big corporates in the area have gone unheard.
Desperate for some kind of governmental action, fisherfolk from six villages gathered for a public hearing on Saturday, headed by a retiredMadras high court Judge, D. Hari Paranthaman, Dr. Karen Coelho and S. Janakarajan, formerly of Madras Institute of Development Studies.
The encroachment has not only affected fish population that is now less than half of its original numbers, but fisherfolk too have been suffering from skin diseases and also bronchitis. “ Our forefathers would gulp water from Ennore creek and there would be so many fish in the sea that we never had to go too far to catch them, but now we have to sail miles before we are able to catch fish. We can’t even think of going near the creek now because of the foul smell, leave alone drinking from it,” said Parthasarathy, a fisherman.
The water in the creek is contaminated mainly by the thermal plants in the area namely Ennore Thermal and the NTECL which let out hot water into the rivers.
The drop in fish population is depriving over 15,000 people of their livelihood. “ When our fathers were offered jobs at factories, they brushed it aside saying they would earn in a couple of hours fishing what the factory would otherwise pay them in a month. Now these factories are promising us jobs.If we let them encroach the land, we might be pushed to accept these jobs, but we are fishermen, how can we allow our land to be destroyed like this?” said a distraught Manikandan.
According to Janakarajan, no factory is supposed to be set up less than five km from the sea shore and yet Ennore is surrounded by companies like Ashok Leyland, MRF, l&T, fertiliser and petrochemical companies, that let out their waste into the waters. The panel is planning a draft to be presented to government, CMDA, pollution control board and also file a PIL before the National Green Tribunal.