A hill stands between Andhra fishermen, Gangavaram port

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The company's proposal would mean additional 10-15 km of commuting

TROUBLED WATERS: Fishermen spread their nets in the Gangavaram backwaters near Visakhapatnam on Tuesday. K. R. Deepak
TROUBLED WATERS: Fishermen spread their nets in the Gangavaram backwaters near Visakhapatnam on Tuesday. K. R. Deepak

Our Bureau

Visakhapatnam, March 28

A hill literally stands between the agitating fishermen and the company that wants to construct a port in Gangavaram, a coastal village nearby.

The agitating fishermen do not mind the port coming up in their village. But they would like the private company implementing the project to construct a fishing jetty on the near side of the hill so that they don't have to commute a long distance from their homes to the sea. But the company, these fishermen contend, is agreeable to locating it only on the far side of the hill. But that would mean an additional 10-15 km of commuting, a prospect that clearly doesn't enthuse them.

Of the two fishing villages that are directly affected by the construction of a port at Gangavaram. a problem arose with regard to the main village, Gangavaram. Thoughthe residents did not have to vacate their houses and the village, the fishermen would be denied access to the sea , once the construction of the port begins. They would have to move afar, to Yarada or Appikonda or some other placefor fishing which they contend is not practical.

Therefore, they are demanding the construction of a fishing jetty, at a cost of Rs 5-10 crores, in the vicinity of the village at Nallamarammapatalu at the foot of the Yarada hill. The consortium and the Government have agreed to construct the jetty, but not at the place specified by Gangavaram fishermen. They want the fishermen to shift to Yarada, on the other side of the hill.

``Yarada is not convenient to Gangavaram fishermen, and therefore they are insisting on Nallamarammapatalu. The siting of the jetty is crucial. If it is on the other side of the hill, at Yarada, they will have to move their fishing nets and other paraphernalia a long way every day. The private port officials should not be allowed to dictate terms on the crucial issue,'' argues Mr Ch. Narasinga Rao, district CPM Secretary, who is leading the agitation and is in the thick of it. He was arrested on Monday morning.

Mr Anil Kumar Singhal, District Collector, has said the administration is sympathetic to the cause of fishermen. "We are here to help them, not harm their cause. But they should not get incited by certain elements and take law into their hands. We are willing to help even those who are not actually eligible for compensation. Some help can be arranged even for them. But a proper atmosphere should be created for that to happen."

The Government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh to the family of the dead fisherman and convened an all-party meet in Hyderabad on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Related Stories:
Gangavaram port row: Fisherman killed
Tension at Gangavaram
Gangavaram fisherfolk seek rehab package

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 29, 2006)
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