Fishermen’s Life at a Low Ebb

Worried over loss of livelihood, the fishermen from six hamlets in the region, who traditionally depended on the Ennore creek, the adjoining Buckingham canal and the Korttalaiyar river, have upped the ante against continuing encroachment and pollution to waterbodies.

A public hearing was organised by Ennore Anaithu Meenava Gramangal Koottamaippu, where several fishermen vented their anger in front of retired judge of Madras HC Justice D Hariparanthaman and academic and activist S Janakarajan, who traveled all along the creek on Saturday to understand the ground reality.

Speaking to Express, Prof. Janakarajan said: “The situation is pathetic. Literally, lives of 15,000 people, majority of whom are fishermen, living in the region is at stake. The waterbody, which once had a depth of 15 feet, is now reduced to less than a foot because of silt and dumping of coal ash by the thermal power plants and the dredge material by the Kamarajar Port. Almost every rule has been violated.”

He said the State government should immediately look into the issue and initiate corrective measures to restore the Ennore creek, which is hydrologically sensitive and plays a vital role in balancing the coastal ecosystem. “We could see people suffering from respiratory and dermatology problems and there are frequent cases of miscarriages among the women. It’s alarming”.

Justice Hariparanthaman said he was shocked to see the kind of largescale encroachments. “The natural flow of the waterbody has been blocked by the violators like the port and thermal power plants.” Environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said water and air samples from the vicinity to test for coal ash pollution had been taken and results were expected in a couple of days.

Coal Ash and its ill-Effects

Coal ash is the waste that is left after coal is combusted (burned). It includes fly ash as well as coarser materials that fall to the bottom of the furnace. Coal ash contains concentrated levels of toxic metals such as arsenic, uranium, thallium, thorium, cadmium, iron, chromium, lead and boron. These are poisonous, with some being radioactive and others cancerous or neurotoxic. In humans, the coal ash is known to cause respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive and neurological disorders, especially among children, elderly and pregnant women.

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