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Fishermen sandwitched between politics and development

Written by: Staff
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Visakhapatnam, Mar 26 (UNI) The poor fishermen of Gangavaram village, who reacted violently yesterday by beating up officials and policemen when they tried to forcefully remove their fishing boats to pave the way for construction of private sector Gangavaram Port, are a torned lot between the 'games' played by the politicians and the fast pace of industrial development this port city has witnessed.

The people of this fishing village had been at loggerheads with the authorities ever since the former TDP government decided to permit a Greenfield Port to be developed by a Dubai-based Consortium of companies, in which some NRIs have a major stake.

Though, strategically the Rs-2000 crore new port, just 15 km away from Visakhapatnam Port, which is one of the oldest ports in the country, can be very advantageous to the mega industries, which are already here, and for the ones that are going to come up, they spell doom to the livelihood of 25,000 predominantly poor fisher folk.

In the first phase, five jetties would be built and the future plans include construction of 36 jetties, which would make this port the largest in the country.

The fishermen had been using the picturesque Gangavaram beach as their landing point for many generations and the construction of the new port means that they would have to shift their fishing activities to Yarada, about eight km north of their village.

With the surrounding Eastren Ghats the distance will become 15 km, which they have to traverse every day to go on fishing. They are determined not to give up their traditional landing point, and are now demanding, building of a fishing jetty adjacent to the new port.

The promoters, however, are not ready to do this, citing security reasons. A similar fishing port is at present existing at Vizag Port, from where thousands of fishermen are etching their livelihood.

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