PUDUCHERRY: With clashes over the use of purse seine nets not dying down, Section 144 CrPC was imposed at Veerampattinam, Nallavadu and Vambakeerapalayam villages on Sunday. The fisherfolk, however, claim that the laxity of officials led to the recent confrontation.
On Saturday afternoon, fishermen from Veerampattinam village attempted to prevent Nalavadu fishermen from fishing with purse seine nets and a clash broke out between them at sea. Not long after, hundreds of residents from both villages gathered at Puthukuppam and attacked each other with spear-like weapons.
Senior Superintendent of Police Prithiksha Godara and Superintendent of Police (South) Jintha Kothandaraman rushed to the spot along with their forces, and warned the fishermen. With the villagers showing no sign of relenting, police fired two rounds in the air. Though the fisherfolk cleared the spot then, by evening Veerampattinam residents went to Nalavadu area and burst crackers. They also issued several warnings to the locals.
Subsequently, they went to Thengaithittu harbour, where they were confronted by fishermen from Vambakeerapalayam. Arguments ensued and soon hundreds gathered on the shore and hurled stones at each other. Police personnel arrived and fired 12 rounds in the air to disperse the crowd. Following these back-to-back clashes, Puducherry Collector Rishita Gupta issued orders for imposing Section 144 in the three villages on Saturday night itself. Around 400 persons have been booked following the incidents.
Veerampattinam village panchayat member PS Sakthivel said though the purse seine nets were banned by the Puducherry government over a decade ago, Nalavadu residents are using them.
“This illegal way of fishing deprives catch for small boat fishermen. Our village houses over 500 families and together we have over 100 fibre boats. With them depleting the fish resource indiscriminately, livelihoods of our families are affected. We submitted many complaints to Fisheries officials, but no action was taken. So, our village panchayat moved the Madras High Court and obtained an order to implement a strict ban on seine net fishing in Puducherry in November 2019. This irked the fishermen in Nalavadu,” he added.
“We have 22 kanna boats in our village and each time we set out to sea, we spend a minimum of Rs 40,000 on fuel and other expenses. If we use other nets, we can’t get back even our fuel expenses. So, we have no other option but to use the seine nets. We respect the sea and its resources. We will cause no harm to it,” said K Raghuraman, a fisherman from Nalavadu.
Meanwhile, Assembly speaker and Manavely MLA Embalam R Selvam held talks with fishermen in Nalavadu village and assured them that they will bring the issue to the notice of the Chief Minister.