India: As industries pollute water, fishermen lose livelihood
Fishermen near southern city of Chennai protest as toxic fumes and waste contaminate water, making fishing difficult.
Ennore, Chennai – Situated 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the coastal megacity of Chennai in southern India‘s Tamil Nadu state, Ennore is surrounded by the Kosasthalaiyar river, the Bay of Bengal, and the Ennore creek.
Ennore creek is vital for Chennai since it protects the city from floods and provides water. The creek separates the seawater from inland water bodies, acting as a barrier to prevent the salt water from entering the fresh water.
In the last 20 years, however, many smaller industries sprung up in the area in a rapid, uncontrolled way after a thermal power plant was set up. The North Chennai Thermal Power Station, EID Parry, Coromandel Cement and Kothari Fertilisers are among the few industries here polluting the creek.
The fly ash from the thermal plant is dumped into the creek’s fresh water, as is the hot, polluted water from the coal plant. These industries have reduced the creek to a mere ash pond, affecting the ecology and livelihood of the fishermen around it.
Two years ago, India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) threatened to close the power plant if it did not stop the illegal dumping of fly ash into the creek. But the NGT order continues to be flouted.
Protests by the area’s fishermen demanding compensation for the loss of their livelihoods has gone unheard. Despite living next to the sea, they are unable to fish and support their families.
Apart from contaminating the water and the air, the toxic fumes affect the health of the people in Ennore, who continue to wait for action against the polluting industries.