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Agitations against shrimp farms along coastline

Special Correspondent

`Out of 1,800 such farms, only 432 have valid licence'

CHENNAI: Eleven organisations, including the Tamilnadu Vivasaigal Sangam, and fishermen associations, have joined together to stage a series of agitations demanding immediate removal of all shrimp farms along the State coastline.

The general secretary of the Tamilnadu Vivasaigal Sangam, K. Balakrishnan, talking to newsmen here on Wednesday, said that about 1800 shrimp farms were functioning in coastal districts of which only 432 farms had valid licence. Though the Government had issued orders for the removal of 396 farms, they continued to function. The official machinery was a silent spectator to these "unlicensed farms."

Mr. Balakrishnan said thousands of agricultural workers had lost their jobs after shrimp farms came into being. Besides causing "irreparable" damage to the eco-system, shrimp farms had "polluted" groundwater, making farming difficult.

Appealing to the President not to give accent to the Aquaculture Authority Bill 2004, passed in Parliament in December last, he said the bill had diluted the coastal regulation zone and was favourable to shrimp farms.

He also alleged that even six months after tsunami, affected people in many places were not given adequate compensation. Though the Government had assured permanent houses for them within six months, they were still accommodated in temporary shelters.

The six-point charter of demands included removal of all shrimp farms, denial of fresh licence to shrimp farms, and immediate rehabilitation of tsunami-affected fishermen, The organisations would take out rallies along the coastal districts and conduct street corner public awareness campaigns. The rallies would culminate in Nagapattinam on July 3, where a State-level conference would be organised.

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