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Friday, Jul 26, 2002

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Hunger-strike by TN fishermen

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Two elderly fishermen on a six-hour fast in Chennai on Thursday. Thousands of fishermen in several coastal areas of Tamil Nadu undertook the fast as part of a `do or die' agitation in support of their 42-point charter of demands.

CHENNAI. July 25

FISHERMEN'S organisations of Tamil Nadu held a six-hour hunger strike to press their demands for protecting their livelihoods and the coastal environment.

According to Ms Jesu Rethinam of the National Fishworker Forum, the organisations have decided to carry out the protest demonstration, so that the Governments at the Centre and the State would take notice of the coastal environmental degradation taking place, and the resulting adverse impact on the livelihood of the fisherfolk.

Among their main demands is the implementation of the 21 recommendations made by the Murari Committee.

Further, the fishworkers want the implementation of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification in its "undiluted form as it was originally notified in 1991".

They also want the Central Government to implement the Supreme Court Judgement of 1996 on industrial aquaculture and the withdrawal of the Aquaculture Authority Bill.

These groups, according to Ms Rethinam, do not want the new industrial ports to be constructed at Colachal in Tamil Nadu, Vizhinjam in Kerala and Ummargaon in Gujarat.

To ease the fuel costs for running outboard engines and mechanised boats, the fishworkers want the Central Government to announce a subsidy on diesel and kerosene.

At the State-level, the fishworkers want the Government to pay compensation for the livelihood lost during the 45-day ban on fishing during April-May.

To protect their market, the fishworkers want the State Government to ban import of fish from the other States, she added. They also want the Government to carry out deepening work in estuaries, so that the fishworkers can increase their catch.

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