Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin had earlier announced that this government would not permit the Adani group’s plans to expand the Kattupalli port near Pulicat.

DMK and Cong MPs with people of Pulicat
news Environment Saturday, October 16, 2021 - 20:02

It was 6.30 am on Saturday, but never too early for Vijaya and her team of 16 women in Pulicat. The group lit their wood-fired stoves and began preparations for the grand feast that was to be served in the afternoon of October 16. On the menu was spicy masala crab, fish curry, prawns etc — all freshly caught from the ocean and the Pulicat estuary. The Pazhaverkaadu Meen Vizha or Pulicat seafood cuisine has always been a celebration of the richness of the Pulicat marine and brackish ecosystem. Fish prawns and freshwater crab caught from Pulicat lake would directly go into the pots and then on to the plate.

But this time, the feast is offered in gratitude and good faith by the women Pulicat to important leaders of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu with just one request — stall the Adani Kattupalli Port Expansion plans. “We have faith in the DMK government and in CM Stalin that the Adani port expansion project will be stalled. This government has promised that they will protect the lives and livelihoods that depend on this estuary and its ecosystem. This is why we are serving the feast as a reminder,” Vijaya told TNM. 

The seafood feast was served to a delegation of MPs including DMK South Chennai MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian, Congress leader and MP of Thiruvallur K Jayakumar, DMK MP North Chennai Kalanidhi Veerasamy etc., at the Pulicat Forest Guest House close to the estuary, on Saturday. The special menu included Ulpathi/Paarai Meen Kuzhambu (Trevally fish curry), Aathu Nandu Masala (Freshwater crab masala), Sundavaitha Valai Meen (slow cooked fish), Eral Puttu (Prawn Puttu), Pooseral Karukaradhu (dried shrimp) etc. While the feast was initially meant to be served to Chief Minister MK Stalin, it was offered to the MPs who was sent on behalf of the CM. 

Women against Adani

If permitted to expand, the Adani Kattupalli port project will eat into 1,145 hectares of land and seawater, converting it into industrial estate, possibly erasing close to 50 villages and destroying the local ecosystem and livelihoods. Pulicat, which is the second biggest brackish water ecosystem in the country, also boasts of a diverse ecosystem. Its waters are famous for shrimp, freshwater crab and a plethora of fish. With further commercialisation in the region, local communities not only fear loss of livelihood, but also fear that the rich and diverse ecosystem will be lost due to commercial activity. 

It is the women of Pulicat who have been at the forefront of protests against the Adani group’s port expansion plans. The women fishers of Pulicat made headlines with their innovative ways of protesting, such as the time when they cooked for a cause, at the 2020 Pulicat Seafood Festival or Pazhaverkadu Thiruvizha. Women have also formed solidarity groups and spread the Save Pulicat movement by creating awareness on the human and environmental costs of the port expansion project.

DMK’s promise

While protests against the Adani group’s expansion plans have been going on for two years now, the DMK in its election manifesto in 2021 stated that if voted to power, the government would stall the project. Stalin had in January 2021 tweeted against the Adani port expansion project using the hashtag #StopAdaniSavePulicat while the AIADMK was in power.

“Livelihood of 1 lakh fishermen, 35 lakh people at risk of floods, and many parts of the forests and lakes are being destroyed, affecting the economic ecology of Tamil Nadu. Why are the AIADMK-BJP governments helping the expansion of the Adani Group forest school port?,” Stalin had tweeted. 

After being voted to power, the Chief Minister, at the first Tamil Nadu state Legislative Assembly on May 11, announced that all electoral promises would be fulfilled by the elected government. 

Speaking to the media, DMK MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian said "We have enjoyed the love of the ocean and the people living by the ocean...The women of Pulicat have been raising their voice for two years now, against the Adani port expansion plans in the area. To stall Adani port is one of the electoral promises of Chief Minister Stalin which he will fulfill. Apart from this, from the government's side, measures will be taken to resolve other issues that the people in the community may face," she said. 

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