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On 11 April, the Madras High Court ordered the eviction of fisher folks from the Loop road near Chennai's Marina Beach, causing traffic congestion. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) informed the court that it plans to relocate them. Fisher folks say the move has impacted their livelihood.
I went to Mullima Nagar, near Marina Beach, to meet these fisher folks who are upset with GCC as the administration has decided to seize their shops under the encroachment removal drive as they are restricted to the western side to avoid traffic congestion on the Loop Road and Santhome Road.
Santosh, a fish seller, tells me that they have been coming to Mullima Nagar for fishing and sell the fish for ages since it's their generational occupation. Whatever they catch from the sea adjacent to the road, they sell on the road.
"A few years ago, this road wasn't here. Some politicians convinced us for construction of the road for an emergency, and we thought it would benefit us too. After a few days, they made the road wider. We didn't say anything about that and thought it would benefit us, too. Now, they want us to sell fish here. They think of it as a shameful thing. They think it is a disrespectful, unclean profession."Santosh, Fish Seller
The fishing community in Chennai is dominated by women who do not have any other source of income except their fish vending shops, unlike the men in the community. So, for these women, it's not easy to relocate.
"We have been catching and selling fish here only. Suddenly they told us not to sell here any more. We have been doing this for years, and now they are removing us. I only know how to sell fish. Suddenly if you ask us to go, where will we go? I have sold fish all my life."Vimla, Fish Seller
Following the high court's order to reduce the traffic congestion on the road, the GCC plans to relocate the fisher folks to a new fish market built in Nochikuppam. The new facility will have 384 fish stalls.
Last month, the fisher folks staged a protest against their eviction. The Loop road, where the fish is being sold, is usually very busy and used by the VVIPs of Chennai, such as the Madras High Court judges, lawyers, bureaucrats, etc. The fishing community claims
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