Fishermen in hamlets along Chennai, Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram districts have gone into a huddle, discussing strategies to oppose the proposed pen-shaped memorial in the sea off the Chennai coast. While opposition is mainly to the construction being in the sea, they seem to be strongly making a case for the memorial for former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to be built on land.
“It can be built at a central place like Island Grounds, where there is plenty of space to park and tourists can also flock to see the marvel. It would be safer on ground since it won’t be exposed to the vagaries of the sea and wind. We sometimes see winds blowing at 55 km/hr and very high waves during storm surges, which could damage the structure,” said Nanjil Ravi, Anaithu Meenavargal Sangam.
K. Bharathi of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said traditionally, the coast off the Marina had been a very exceptional fishing ground for prawns and other kinds of fish. “Since several estuaries dot the shore from Ennore to Uthandi, any construction in the sea will prove detrimental to fishing. It will also cause erosion on either side since they plan to dredge and reclaim the sea for an extent of 2.11 acres. It will change the course of the littoral drift and the bottom of the sea,” he said.
M.D. Dayalan, Indian Fishermen Association, said data from old studies was being taken into consideration for putting together the proposal. “The data claims that no fishing activity takes place 500 m from the shore, which is a big lie. Even today, if the sea is a bit calm one can see fishermen standing in hip-deep water and casting their nets and hooks. Also, boats are pushed out into the sea via the waves. When the government does not grant permissions very easily for even small projects like fish landing centres, we wonder how there is so much smooth sailing for this project, which will cause the loss of livelihood for hundreds of fishermen,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board will hold a public hearing at Kalaivanar Arangam on January 31 to gauge public opinion on the subject.