With the Greater Chennai Corporation officials landing at Nochikuppam to remove the fishermen shops, nets and fish, tension prevailed for over an hour on Wednesday morning.
K. Bharathi, a community leader, said that the officials told them they were violating Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) rules. “Fishing is allowed within the CRZ. They told us we were encroaching the road and platform. But it is not so. The Corporation laid this road on top of an existing road that connects the fishing villages in the area. It used to be an internal road that is now being extensively used by motorists,” he said.
Kabaddi Maran, a resident, said their fish market was not a permanent structure and people came there to buy fresh fish. “They prefer to buy fish as the boats land. The fishermen remove the catch from the nets on the road. If they do it on the sands, the fish will lose its quality. We don’t have a proper landing centre which is why we are using a small portion of the road,” he said.
Construction of a permanent market for the fisherman at a cost of ₹10 crore is under way and is expected to reach completion in eight months, said a senior Corporation official. The market will have provisions like stalls for 384 fishermen as well as toilets and sewage treatment plants.
“The fishermen tend to encroach the road which blocks traffic so the Corporation and the police have been intensifying their efforts to free at least the road side of traffic,” said the official.
Corporation officials were engaged in discussions with the fishermen to de-escalate the issue. An official meeting between the fishermen and the Corporation is likely to take place on Thursday, the officials said.