Fed up with bringing home small catches and at times nothing, the fisherfolk of 12 fishing villages in north Chennai are planning to write to the State government seeking to construct a fishing harbour at the mouth of the Ennore Creek. The proposal is an old one, which the fisherfolk are planning to renew.
Former MLA T. Arumugam, who belongs to Nettukuppam had also raised the issue during a recent meeting with the Tiruvallur district administration.
“It was a proposal that had been mooted in 2001. Many fishermen would benefit from it. If the estuary had been converted into a fishing harbour, it would have prevented the sea erosion in Nettukuppam,” he said.
The fishermen opine that instead of constantly dredging the mouth to ensure free flow of water for the thermal power stations, they could construct two arms that would help sand accumulation on either side.
Fisherfolk of Nettukuppam, Thalangkuppam, Ennorekuppam, Mugadwarakuppam, Kaattukuppam, Sivan Padai Veedhi Kuppam, Periya Kuppam, Chinnakuppam, Ernavur Kuppam, Indira Gandhi Kuppam and Kasi Koil Kuppam will benefit from the proposal.
They say that since the sea off the coast of Ennore has become very rough, most of them are forced to go to Kasimedu, their nearest fishing harbour, which is 15 km away.
“The presence of the Chennai port and the Kasimedu harbour has only pushed the waves further north, making fishing tough for us. Not many of us have big boats and are forced to battle the waves on small FRP boats. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cross 200 metres of waves near the coast. If there are huge waves, we are forced to go backwards and all the progress that we made would be wasted,” said M. Kalaivanan of Nettukuppam.
Those who have big boats keep them at Kasimedu. “We are afraid to leave them there but we have no other go. If there is a fishing harbour at Ennore, we would be able to fish throughout the year. We will only have to stop deep sea fishing during the 45-day ban,” said Rajendran of Ennorekuppam.
And for those travelling to Kasimedu, apart from problems posed by the distance, there is also the issue of the cost involved.
“We pay Rs. 400 to transport the fish in iceboxes to share autorickshaws. Similarly to carry our nets, boxes, food, water, light and other stuff to Kasimedu , we have to pay through our noses,” said L. Madanagopal of Kattukuppam.
Sources in the Fisheries Department said that the department would look into the request of the fisherfolk and determine if the project would be feasible and financially viable.
“We are already in the process of constructing a fish landing centre at Ennore to improve the trade in that area. The work is expected to be completed soon. We will consult experts regarding the request from the fishermen,” the official said.