ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uniting to Reclaim Traditional Land and Livelihoods

In the decade since the 2004 tsunami, the affected fishing communities have battled dislocation, sea erosion and a fast depleting marine life. However, as one example from a fishing hamlet in Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu shows, collective efforts can lead to finding solutions. The fishing community of NTO Kuppam has withstood the government's efforts to relocate them far from the source of their livelihood - the sea - in the name of rehabilitation.

In the decade since the 2004 tsunami, the affected fishing communities have battled dislocation, sea erosion and a fast depleting marine life. However, as one example from a fishing hamlet in Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu shows, collective efforts can lead to finding solutions. The fishing community of NTO Kuppam has withstood the government’s efforts to relocate them far from the source of their livelihood – the sea – in the name of rehabilitation.

Just across Nalla Thaneer Odai (NTO) Kuppam, a fishing hamlet in the Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu, is the sea. It has slowly edged closer to the village over the last decade. But it is not the sea erosion but the spectre of eviction that has haunted the fishing community here for the past 10 years ever since the tsunami struck in 2004. The state government wants to construct tenements under its tsunami housing scheme along this stretch and NTO Kuppam lies in the way. The government’s offer of houses in a relocation site to compensate them for moving out was found to be several kilometres away from their present location and they refused to give up their traditional rights. Even today, the fishing hamlet continues to resist the relocation moves of the government. However, very few fishermen thought they would be able to stand up to the government for so long since many families accepted the offer and relocated. For the majority that remained and resisted, it was largely the efforts of the Coastal Community Protection Movement (CCPM), comprising tsunami affected men and women and the Forum for Securing Land and Livelihood Rights of the Coastal Communities (FLLRC), a network of four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that helped.

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