It may be recalled locals had prevented Thoothukudi port staff from undertaking any survey, despite a site office being opened at Tholayavillai, 17 km from Enayam. However, PMAETT (People’s Movement Against Enayam Transshipment Terminal) coordinator J Jasaiah told DTNext that “a Neduvasal- style prolonged protest would result if the state government supported the project, which even the Union Shipping Secretary was convinced was being undertaken at the wrong spot.”
It may be recalled that the Union Shipping Secretary Barun Mithra visited the site office on January 22 after three local MLAs (JG Prince (Colachel), T Mano Thangaraj (Padmanabapuram) and S. Rajesh Kumar(Killiyur) met him at New Delhi and explained how the proposed project would affect 1 lakh fishermen who had no other seashore to be evacuated to.
“I spoke for 20 minutes and explained how the project did not suit the area in the presence of the district collector Sajjan Singh R Chavan and Police SP Dharmarajan. I explained how the TEFR (Techno Economic Feasibility Report) by a private Spanish agency had stated that the Eastern waters of Kanniyakumari district could be chosen as it had neither people not beaches. Also, the spot came under CRZ-1 (Coastal Regulation Zone) where only defence projects were permitted.
The location also had numerous turtle nesting/ breeding sites in addition to 9 of the 10 kilometres being covered by sand dunes which prevented ingress of sea water,” said Jasaiah. An EIA (Environmental Assessment Report) to be undertaken by the central government’s MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest) was against doing anything in CRZ-1 as the area they had to cover amounted to nearly 1,040 sq km, including 10 km in the sea, Jasaiah added.
“The Collector and the SP understood what we said due to our providing documentary evidence to back our claims. They then visited the site to see it for themselves,” SAFF (South Asian Fishermen’s Fraternity) General Secretary A. Churchill added.
When asked, Pon Radhakrishnan, said, “Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy met union shipping minister Nitin Ghadkari and me in New Delhi recently where we requested him to provide the necessary assistance to ensure completion of the pending DPR.”
The DPR should have been completed by the Spanish agency in 2015 but could not be done due to stiff resistance by locals. Now, the locals await the state government move and are ready for a prolonged agitation if the state government concedes the shipping ministry’s demand.