CHENNAI: Fishermen of Nallathaneer Odai Kuppam, who went on a token strike in Sungachavadi near Kasimedu on Tuesday, preferred to be devoured by a tsunami than losing their livelihood. The protest was held to oppose the move to displace them to settlements in AIR Colony in Ernavoor in view of the `600-crore Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP).
More than 200 grim-faced men and women huddled in a makeshift shamiana near the Manali Road and listened to speakers from various forums, who backed their struggle, under the watchful eyes of the cops.
The leader of the kuppam, Radhakrishnan, told ‘Express’ that the protest was not against the EMRIP. “We do not want to hinder the project. We just want to live near the sea so that our livelihood is not affected. Let them lay the road, but they should provide tenements to the affected on a nearby poromboke land instead of displacing them. We are not afraid of the tsunami, but are worried over losing our livelihood if we are shifted to AIR Colony.”
However, an official of the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company said that they had resettled people of 27 of the 29 kuppams hit by the project, to AIR Colony. “They were also fishermen, but they moved to get government compensation,” he reasoned.
But fishermen dismissed these figures as exaggerated.
The official said 258 of the 447 families would be hit by the project and all of them wanted to stay in a place together,which was not possible. “The district administration held talks with the villagers and still discussions are on,” he said.
Interestingly, the protest was held without police permission, said President of South Indian Federation of Fishermen Jayapalayan.
When ‘Express’ asked the cops monitoring the protest whether they were planning to arrest the fishermen, they said as long as the protest was peaceful, they would not initiate any action.