For at least three weeks now, fishermen of five hamlets in Ennore have not been able to venture into the sea — reason being the heavy sand deposit at Ennore creek estuary.
Fisherfolk say sand from one bank of the estuary has been pushed to the other side by waves, thus resulting in closure of the mouth of the estuary.
Kalaivanan of Nettukuppam says though there is an opening to the sea, they are unable to use it as there are boulders that have been dislodged from the seawall that is being constructed, and broken pillars from the abandoned pier.
“At the point where we can enter or exit, boats capsize and fishermen get injured very badly. They hit the rocks and the exposed iron rods under the water,” he says.
On Wednesday, fisherfolk from Ennore Kuppam, Thalangkuppam, Mugadwarakuppam, Nettukuppam and Kattukuppam did not venture into the sea. Instead, they charted out a set of demands, including one on the need for a harbour at the estuary and a seawall till Ennore pier. Natarajan of Ennore Kuppam says the villages have planned to hold a dharna on Monday to urge the government to build a fishing harbour near the estuary to protect their livelihood.
There are over 1,000 boats in these five villages. Fisherfolk from three villages depend on the sea and two on the creek for survival, says Mr. Natarajan.
Velan of Mugadwarakuppam says this is the first time the creek’s mouth has closed up so massively.
An official of the water resources department (WRD) says the problem may have occurred due to lack of dredging of the Ennore creek mouth. For several years now, Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) has been involved in dredging Ennore creek.
Kumaravel of Thalangkuppam says though they have asked ETPS to dredge sand on the other side, no action has been taken so far.
“Fishing in the creek has also been affected due to the closure of the estuary,” he says.
The WRD official says work to repair and raise the seawall has commenced. “We plan to cover the stretch till the creek at a cost of Rs. 26.58 crore and build groyne at a cost of Rs. 31 crore,” he says.
An official in the fisheries department says they will look into the issue and consider the pleas of the fisherfolk.