Indian Fisherfolk in battle with power companiesPublished by MAC on 2016-11-21
Consultation with communities demanded, to suit legitimate development needs in coastal areas
Today is World Fisheries Day. Among those commemorating it are thousands of Indian coastal fishworkers, threatened by the thermal power plant plans of Adani, Tata and other companies.
Sagarmala Is A Noose Around Coastal Communities, Will Compromise Indian People’s Security
National Fishworkers’ Forum & National Alliance of People’s Movements will join hands to fight the destructive port & corridor based development model.
· Two-day national consultation on ‘Sagarmala’, concludes in Delhi
· NDA Government is trying to fool the coastal people by unviable projects
· Sagarmala will effectively promote real estate projects
· Joint actions planned by people’s movements in the entire coastal stretch between Gujarat and West Bengal
· More than a lakh of Fishworkers to participate in the series of actions
· NFF to hold Parliament Rally on 21st November 2016, on World Fisheries Day
· Coastal Yatra being planned by affected people from ten coastal states
· Consultation with communities demanded, to suit legitimate development needs in coastal areas
· “Privatisation and handing over of ports to companies like Adani will threaten India’s national national security”
· Fishworkers demand withdrawal of Sagarmala project
· Government should roll back the ‘Demonetisation’ policy, which has caused immense hardships to the coastal people and is hardly offering any scientific solution to the actual black money and corruption issue
Addressing the critical issues and concerns out of National Perspective Plan under the implementation for Sagarmala and Industrial Corridors along the Indian coastline, the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) leadership asserted that such projects were being approved without any thought going into the effects on the fishing community who are settled all along the coasts. It is also true that the original Sagarmala plan articulated under former PM Mr. A.B Vajpayee has been modified with large scale land and ocean grabbing, displacing the people and their right to life, livelihood and dignity. The ecological devastation has also been accelerated which is being sidelined in this massive push for development.
The Sagarmala project is primarily aimed at developing ports, transport through waterways and promote shipping, in other words it is just a port-based development model. However, a port-based development of multiple projects intended at bringing in foreign currency, should be understood differently from coastal development. Serious concerns are being raised about the environmental effects on the coasts with issues like coastal erosion, coastal accretion as well as severe problems of dredging and the effects on the sea bed due to this. It is a fact that construction of breakwaters is leading to such disturbance in the ocean current that fishworkers are not able to go into the sea to fish. Moreover, the massive increase in ports and coming in of huge projects under Sagarmala is not in coordination with the requirement and the feasibility of having a huge number of ports.
The ill effects of the Enayam port were highlighted which is an upcoming port in Tamil Nadu that is considered to be unviable and will also lead displacement in a thickly populated coastal district. The Vizhinjam port, already handed over to the Adani group, which is swallowing the entire coast, is being opposed by the fishing community in Thiruvananthapuram district. The expansion of the Kamraj Ennoore port, in Tamil Nadu, has already been opposed by community and experts alike. We demand that the viability studies be made public and the local community consent be made mandatory before going ahead with these unviable projects. Immediate cessation of all construction related activities must be done.
Fishworkers from Kutch, Gujarat highlighted the severe effects of the Adani port and Adani, Tata and OPG thermal power plants in the Mundra area on the traditional small fishermen who have faced effects on their livelihood. It was also mentioned that Adani acquired huge amounts of land on the coastline for the Mundra SEZ first, and caused all kinds of environmental violations. The most shocking has been the ease with which over 2500 acres of mangroves were removed and land filling was done by Adani, with impunity. These projects have also brought out severe effects on the marine ecology where up to 25 kms of coastline you can find dead fish because of massive amounts of toxins being released into the estuaries.
‘Sagarmala’ needs serious national assessment, from its different complexities. The industrial corridors, the economic corridors, smart cities, coastal investment regions like PCPIR and sagarmala are all a part of the larger plan for industrialization, which will destroy India’s vulnerable coastline.
The leaders also noted that the NDA Government’s demonetisation effort, under the pretext of curtailing black money, is hurting the fishing community across India – other than many other formal and informal production sectors. Without scientifically assessed reasons and a detailed cost-benefit analysis, it is scary that the Central Government has gone ahead with such a scheme, jeopardising the lives of the majority Indians, to catch a minority engaged in black money and illegal transactions.
The NFF and the NAPM will be taking forward their struggles on these issues with further discussions at the NFF General Body in Tuticorin (9th and 10th December 2016) and the NAPM National Convention in Patna (2-4 Dec 2016).
The World Fisheries Day is observed on November 21st every year and this year, the National Fishworkers Forum along with various other peoples movements, organizations and networks has given a call against ‘Ocean Grabbing’ and is highlighting the situation of the coasts in India today. In order to mark this day fisher people from different parts of the country will come together for a rally tomorrow (Monday) at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar at 10am.
Issued on behalf of
NFF: M. Ilango (Chairperson), Narendra Patil (Gen Secretary) and T. Peter (Secretary)
NAPM: Rajendra Ravi (National Convener) and Madhuresh Kumar (National Organiser)