Tamil Nadu

Eminent personalities express concern over ‘Project Blue’

Environmental groups, climate activists, educationists, fishers and a number of citizens have written to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin expressing concern over the ‘Project Blue’ component of Singara Chennai 2.0 proposed by the Greater Chennai Corporation.

In their letter, 65 eminent personalities said the project should recognise and protect livelihood rights of fishers. They also pointed out that the similar urban beautification and renewal projects by previous governments were themselves a cause for worry.

“Chennai’s beaches are not just objects of beauty and recreation; they are first and foremost livelihood and living spaces for the city’s fisherfolk. Even recreationally, the attraction of our beaches is the availability of open, unbuilt nature, not landscaped spaces and built infrastructure,” they said.

While the beaches need to be kept clean, inclusive and safe, and the government’s plans to improve access to the beach, especially to provide infrastructure to differently abled persons were welcome, any improvement to the beach front should be done considering the livelihood needs of fisherfolk and fish vendors and the security of coastal communities, they said.

In recent years, efforts were made to evict fish vendors from the Marina Loop Road. “At a time when the economy is in the dumps, it is foolhardy to rob the livelihoods of self-employed women fishworkers who contribute to the economy with no assistance from the government. If the government wishes to improve working conditions for the women, it has to be done as per their suggestions and not with the objective of transforming prime vending spaces into exclusive recreational zones,” they said. Such creation of exclusive recreational zones would be blatantly discriminatory.

They also drew attention to the plan in 2009 to construct an elevated expressway from Nochikuppam to Kottivakkam, and the ‘Integrated Development in Foreshore Estate’ plan to evict fisherfolk from Srinivasapuram and Pattinapakkam to accommodate malls, luxury hotels and high-end residential complexes for private parties. These were shelved after public protests.

“Project Blue should address the food, shelter, safety and basic needs of coastal residents. This would put us on the real path to becoming a world class city,” they said.

The letter was signed by retired High Court judge Justice Hariparanthaman, S. Janakarajan, president, South Asian Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, Ajit Menon, professor, MIDS, artist T.M. Krishna, members of Save Chennai Beaches, Dakshin Foundation, among others.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 5:54:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/eminent-personalities-express-concern-over-project-blue/article34833549.ece

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