Constituency Watch: Tiruvottiyur | A highly industrialised, coastal region awaits answers

Fisherfolk grapple with unresolved issues amidst pollution, poor infrastructure

Updated - March 16, 2021 03:15 am IST

Published - March 16, 2021 01:22 am IST - CHENNAI

A long coastline and scores of industries have shaped the identity of Tiruvottiyur constituency. The latest infrastructural addition, the Metro, has undoubtedly changed the skyline of a segment of this constituency — starting from Kaladipet to Wimco Nagar — but at the ground level, a number of issues, such as industrial pollution and factors affecting the livelihood of fisherfolk, still remain unaddressed.

Nearly 20 fishing villages and a number of highly industrialised areas make up a major portion of Tiruvottiyur in Tiruvallur. The constituency includes areas such as Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Chinnasekkadu, Ernavoor and Kathivakkam. The coastline extending from the fishing villages of Nalla Thaneer Odai Kuppam to Nettukuppam, Thalankuppam, falls in the constituency.

With fisherfolk having a significant vote bank, the constituency will see a former councillor and a former Member of Legislative Assembly from the two Dravidian parties contest for the seat. K.P. Sankar, brother of DMK MLA and former Fisheries Minister K.P.P. Samy, who passed away in 2020 leaving the seat vacant, and K. Kuppan of the AIADMK are in the fray. Both candidates evoked a mixed response among a cross-section of residents, who will also see Naam Tamilar Katchi’s chief coordinator Seeman in the fray.

How members of the fishing community vote would be one of the major deciding factors, leaders of the fishing community said. “The fishing community definitely has a big role. This constituency is among nearly 37 constituencies in 13 districts that has a high presence of fisherfolk. We need better representation as some of our issues remain unresolved. The Ennore Creek should be protected. There is indiscriminate discharge of effluents by industries and environment monitoring is poor. There is no denying that we need developmental activities but the Kattupalli port expansion project will hit the fishing industry badly here too,” K. Bharathi, president of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said.

The port project, P.R. Mahendran of Nalla Thaneer Odai Kuppam, said, would have an adverse impact on their livelihood. “Already, the number of people taking up fishing have dwindled over the years. We get a good catch of crab and prawns every January. We call it the ‘Pongal bonus’ but if the port is expanded, it will be against the natural course, resulting in dwindling marine life. When will they understand that it is a question of our livelihood,” he said.

Demands to deepen the Ennore estuary are still pending. The estuary was polluted with fly ash from industries. V. Desingh, of Nettukuppam, another fishing village, said it involved the livelihood of 30,000 to 40,000 fishermen. “Our lives are endangered, and materials, including fishing nets and boats, worth lakhs of rupees are damaged in tidal action, raising the need for deepening the estuary,” he said.

Industrial pollution remains a cause of concern for residents in Manali, Tiruvottiyur and Ennore. “We grapple with air pollution. Many residents suffer from respiratory problems,” a resident of Tiruvottiyur said.

Industrial pollution has not spared even the groundwater, added Annadurai of Manali. “We are purchasing water from private lorries. Applications for Metrowater connections for households have been pending for nearly seven years. Many say Manali, a highly industrial area, is an unfit place for people to live, and this is true on many grounds.”

The road in Chinnasekkadu was in a bad condition and had not been laid in nearly 10 years. A government hospital with specialities was another need. Palani, a shopkeeper in Wimco Nagar, said, “Tiruvottiyur has a number of private hospitals but many cannot afford to pay for healthcare. We need to visit Chinna Stanley (Government Peripheral Hospital, Tondiarpet) or the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital. Access to healthcare will improve if a government hospital is set up here.”

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.