For decades, fishing communities have been struggling without sufficient buses between their hamlets in Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and the city. Though the government has introduced a new bus route, 109T, connecting 100 fishing hamlets between Tiruvottiyur and Kovalam, fishermen want more direct buses connecting villages in all the three districts.
“Fishermen from Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chennai visit Kasimedu for work. There are people coming from Semmencherry and Ennore. They have to come early in the morning. But since they do not have sufficient bus services, some sleep on the boats. Many rely on autorickshaws, who fleece them,” said Nanjil P. Ravi, spokesperson, Akhila India Meenavargal Sangam.
The demand of fishermen for more bus services over the years have not yielded results. “Our relatives are spread across hamlets in three districts. When the bus terminus was functioning from Flower Bazaar, fishermen could easily change buses to reach their destinations. But after it was shifted to Koyambedu, it became difficult,” he added.
K. Bharati, president, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said many women fish vendors visit Kasimedu very early in the morning. “Due to lack of bus services, they arrive at the docks the previous day, and stay the night. More buses will help them travel easily. It would be helpful if the MTC allows us to carry fish till 5 a.m. so that there is no disturbance to other passengers during peak hours,” he said.
Mr. Ravi said more than two decades ago, the government had rolled out a bus service connecting Tiruvottiyur and Kovalam.
“But it was stopped in a month as the road was bad, and the drivers were finding it difficult,” he said.
Now, with the introduction of the 109T bus route, fishermen are hopeful of getting buses connecting the three districts.
“Fishermen from Kovalam used to shell out thousands of rupees to travel by cab to fishing hamlets around Royapuram. They also used to come to Kasimedu by hiring vehicles. Now, they are relieved as they spend Rs. 48 per person on the newly introduced 109T bus route,” explained P.R. Mahendran, a fisherman from N.T.O. Kuppam.
According to an MTC official, the new route was started on July 4, based on a request by the Akhila India Meenavargal Sangam.
A total of four buses are operated between Tiruvottiyur and Kovalam. On average more than 1,500 passengers travel on this route on a daily basis.
The 109T bus service starts from Tiruvottiyur, and makes over 35 stops, including Royapuram, Beach Station, Kamarajar Salai, Sathya Studio, Besant Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Neelankarai and Muttukadu, before reaching Kovalam.