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Thanks to church, fishermen are back in business

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, FEB. 1. The December 26 killer-tsunami might have left indelible scars on the minds of the fisherfolk belonging to these 54 families. Yet the healing touch provided by the relief team of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) has helped them to see a new dawn in their life and enabled them to resume fishing operations today after a gap of nearly 35 days.

The fishermen belonging to families which had lost some of their kin in the disaster set out to sea using the motorised fishing boats to continue their eternal struggle with mother nature off the shores of Karikattukuppam close to the East Coast Road in Kancheepuram district.

Their livelihood journey using the motorised boats and nets given by the ECI was flagged off by the Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Dayanidhi Maran. The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, handed over the nets to them at a function held at Karikattukuppam.

The beneficiaries belonged to 36 hamlets in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts including K.V. Kuppam, Anichakuppam, Koonimedu, Ayodhyanagar, Periakalapattu, Orakkuppam and Karikattukuppam.

The unit cost of the fibreglass boat, outboard motor and a set of five nets was Rs. 1.60 lakhs. Of this amount, Rs.1.10 lakhs would be provided as grant by the ECI and the balance would be treated as interest-free loan to be repaid in easy instalments in seven years. "This arrangement is made to prevent the fishermen from misusing the boats," said Bishop Ezra Sargunam.

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