One more example of fisher folks relocated to make room for tourism.
Karikattukuppam is a fishing hamlet of about 1000 inhabitants forming part of the Muttukadu Panchayath (local council). It is 20 km / 12 mi south of Chennai, along the East Coast Road (ECR).
Karikattukuppam was an isolated waterfront town where fishermen ruled the beaches and plied the seas, fishing from raft-like catamarans. They had access to the entire beach, legally a free public land.
In the early 2000s, the government began aggressive promotion of tourism and used the public police (and therefore public funds) to enforce 'law and order' on behalf of the resorts. Muttukkadu boasts only one seaside tourism resort – MGM Beach Resorts – but this has been been enough to justify preventing locals from accessing the beach front. MGM often calls on the police to remove the local fishermen, claiming their lack of hygiene offends its clients. Fishermen have also been asked to cast their nets further from the resort in order to keep water clear.
The fishermen were fighting these practices when the 2004 tsunami destroyed the coast and submerged their village. The survivors were completely relocated to a new location more than 700m (1/2 mi) away, the Tamil Nadu government justifying the displacement on the grounds of fearing another tsunami. However, the move inland affected the ability to fish (the community's only livelihood) as the catches have now to be carried over a distance, and there is no suitable net-drying area. The children have to walk 1km along the busy ECR to go to school, and at least 4 fatal accidents involving children have occured since 2005. Many fishermen have sold their boats and switched to unskilled labour.
Today, far from preventing construction on the officially "unsafe" land, the government is allowing private parties to purchase it, reputedly with a view of building tourism facilities.
Source: Field Officer's reports; site visits in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
- View of the fishing boats from the fishermen's new village. The village is over 500m away from the beach, beyond a lake which fishermen either have to get around, or to cross on foot if the water is not too high.
- The temple of old Karikattu Kuppam, rotting away
- Karikattu Kuppam's new school, on the side of the East Coast Road. See videos for an idea of how busy the ECR is.
- Gates blocking the entrance to the site of old Karikattu Kuppam (now a private land, soon to be high-rise apartments)
- The new village of Karikattu Kuppam: government "blocks" unmaintained since the 2004 tsunami
- Fishing nets in a bedroom: fishermen can no longer keep their nets on the beach, and have to store them still wet in their house
(Please note: Tourism Concern, Kabani or our partners are not responsible for the content of unverified reports.)