The fishermen here have expressed their apprehensions over the proposed Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP). As a symbolic gesture, a coffin shrouded with a cloth, on which it was written ‘Sethu Samudra Thittam’, was let into the sea by a group of fishermen to express their view that the Central Government had spent huge sums of tax payer’s money to no avail.
A.Subash Fernando, convener, Tuticorin District Fishermen Federation, told reporters here on Monday that Rs.896 crore had been spent for this project. Terming the Sethu project an ‘election ploy to garner votes,’ he said political parties had been making promises in their manifestos, unmindful of fishermen’s welfare and just for the sake of political gains. He also added that it was ridiculous to compare the Suez Canal with the proposed Sethu channel, which was narrower.
In protest against the Sethu project, black flags had been hoisted at 18 coastal hamlets from Vembar to Periyathalai, he said. The livelihood of fishermen would be at stake if the project was implemented. Marine resources would be depleted and conflicts between mechanised boat and country craft fishermen over possible damage to fishing nets would start afresh, he said.
Since fishing was the lifeline for many people in Tuticorin, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Ramanathapuram districts, they were opposing the project in order to protect their livelihood, he said.