By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai, on July 31, 2010:
CHENNAI: Seven different companies located in and around the Kattupalli desalination plant near Minjur have promised to recruit 1,750 traditional fishermen from 15 hamlets, who lost their livelihood in the face of massive industrialisation.The assurance comes in the wake of the threat issued by the 12,000-odd fishermen living in these hamlets of greeting Chief Minister M Karunanidhi with black flags during his proposed visit to Kattupalli to inaugurate the desalination plant on Saturday.
Under a deal accepted by all village heads during a meeting at the Collectorate on Thursday, the companies will immediately recruit 850 fishermen and accommodate them in suitable jobs, and another 900 would be recruited for different jobs within a year.
The urgent meeting was convened by Tiruvallur Collector T P Rajesh to broker peace and to avoid any confrontation with the fishermen during the CM’s visit, said sources.
Besides top officials from the district, representatives from seven companies - Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), Northern Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS), Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO), Chennai, Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), Ennore Port Limited (EPL), L&T Kattupalli Shipyard, and Tamil Nadu Energy Company Limited - participated and accepted the demands of the local fishermen.
Although village heads agreed to the Collector’s advice to start fishing activities from Friday, not a single catamaran went out to sea. According to local fishermen, such activities will start only after the process to identify and recruit fishermen for the promised jobs begins.