In Pics: In the aftermath of oil spill, the fish market in Chennai goes silent | india-news | Hindustan Times
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In Pics: In the aftermath of oil spill, the fish market in Chennai goes silent

A collision between the two happened leading to an oil leakage of the magnitude of 75000 litres.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2017 12:34 IST
Saumya Khandelwal
The coast of Bharathi Nagar Beach smeared in oil and sludge in Chennai, India. On January 28, 2017, two ships collided off the Ennore Port leading to an oil spill of an estimated 75,000 litres.
The coast of Bharathi Nagar Beach smeared in oil and sludge in Chennai, India. On January 28, 2017, two ships collided off the Ennore Port leading to an oil spill of an estimated 75,000 litres.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

Vellu was out fishing off the KVK Kuppum coast on the morning of January 28. He spotted dead fishes and turtles in the sea but was unaware of what had happened until he reached the shore.

On his return, his catch was not selling in the market and he soon discovered the reason. Earlier that morning, a collision had taken place when MT BW Maple was leaving the port after emptying its containment of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, and MT Dawn Kanchipuram loaded with petroleum oil lubricant (POL) was on its way to park at the Kamarajar Port, formerly Ennore port.

Fishermen return from a bad fishing day to the Bharathi Nagar Beach in Chennai, India. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
After a poor day at fishing fishermen make do with their insufficient catch. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

A collision between the two happened leading to an oil leakage of the magnitude of 75000 litres. Soon Whatsapp started doing the rounds that fish was unsafe to consume. Vellu, oblivious of the magnitude of the tragedy, stored his catch in ice in order to try selling it the next day, but when that didn’t work out either, Vellu just left his fish to dry.

Thangapel is a fisherman whose business has been affected because of the oil spills in Chennai, India. First the boat and fishing net was damaged, then the fish would not sell, so he stopped going to fish. When he did resume he acquired an allergy in his skin. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Boats and fishing paraphernalia was damaged because of the oil spill at Bharathi Nagar Beach in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Powler Kumar, 56 years, works for boat owners and has not been going to fish ever since the oil spills happened. No one is willing to give even Re 1 for a fish that usually costs Rs 10, he complains. The Government is not addressing the problem and it neither asking them about their issues. They claimed they will clean it in 7 days, and its been 12 days now, cleaning is not complete yet, and Powler complains of having no work because of it. Powler manages to earn close to 6000 Rs per month out of the 4-5 trips he makes into the sea in small boats of 4 people. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

With no help coming their way, Vellu, Powler and many other small scale fishermen struggle to make ends meet.

Challadorai, 52 years, ventured to fishing after 12 days since the oil spills happened. When he managed to catch only 1 fish in the 15-20 mins that he spend there, he returned disappointed with no hope of a fruitful catch. He is a small fisherman and usually takes one more person with him on the boat for fishing. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Fish left to dry at Kasimedu fish market in Chennai. Ever since the oil spill, the sale of fish have reportedly been strongly affected. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Barrels of oil and sludge collected after cleaning operations lie on KVK Kuppum Beach in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

Such are the stories of small fishermen living in villages along the coast line of Chennai who venture out on small boats in groups of 1-6 people to fish closer to the coast. Ever since the disaster, there has been no help extended to this community from the government despite the visit of chief minister OPS Paneerselvam to the Bharatiyar Nagar beach where many of these communities live.

With meagre incomes from half a dozen fishing visits they make every month these communities are struggling to survive.

Remains of sludge spread over the coastline of Marina beach in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

Powler, a fisherman who does not own a boat, but works on other people’s boats, lashes out: “The government promised that the cleaning will complete in 7 days. 12 days have passed already and the cleaning is still going on. When will we resume our fishing? Nobody is addressing our problems.”

Boats stacked on the coast for lack of business in KVK Kuppum beach in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
A dead olive ridley turtle on the Besant Nagar Beach coastline in Chennai. Many turtles have reportedly been found dead on the coastline post the oil spill but lack of post mortem makes it difficult to assert the cause of their death. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
A fisherman at the Bharathi Nagar beach wears a fish locket in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Business continues as usual for big fisherman who go deep into the sea for fishing and are thus not affected by the oil spills substantially at Kasimedu beach in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Business continues as usual for big fisherman who go deep into the sea for fishing and are thus not affected by the oil spills substantially at Kasimedu beach. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
Fishermen and labourers linger around the fire at Kasimedu Fish Market to keep themselves warm after long hours in the sea in Chennai. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)