Fishermen groups in Chennai and surrounding coastal areas have opposed an upcoming monument at the Marina beach. According to the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association's president K Bharathi, the monument coming as part of the Kalaignar Karunanidhi memorial would lead to loss of coastal environment. In a statement on Friday, January 20, he said that as the monument is close to the mouth of the Cooum river, prawn production would be affected. He added that if the coastal areas were damaged, it would affect the fish production thus affecting the livelihood of fishermen.
Bharathi further said that the fish production in coastal areas of Chennai has already come down and if the monument comes up, it would further erode it. The fishermen leader reasoned the state government to construct the monument on land instead of the seashore. He also said that the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulation has mandated the state government to demarcate the fishing zones but the latter has only earmarked for ports and development.
Citing CRZ rules, Bharathi said that the district CRZ committees must have at least three members from fishing communities but no one has been appointed. The fishermen leaders have also formed the Marina Fishermen Protection Committee for a joint fight against the monument.
The monument is to be constructed 360 metres from the shoreline and will cost Rs 39 crore. The site for the monument falls under CRZ-1A (ecologically sensitive areas), CRZ-II (developed areas up to the shoreline, unauthorised structures are not permitted here), and CRZ-IVA (aquatic area with low tide) areas, but sanction has been given by the state-level authorities.
B Ramkumar Adityan, a practising advocate in Chennai, has already filed a case with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the monument. The petitioner cited that this was the breeding ground for Olive Ridley Turtles and the project would damage the nesting process.