Mahabalipuram, 04/02/2006. More than 40 representatives from coastal panchayats (local self-governments), trade unions, civil society organisations and NGOs from coastal areas of Tamil Nadu assembled and expressed their views and concerns over post-tsunami development activities including tourism at an activist and action group consultation at Mahabalipuram on 30th Jan 2006, organised by Tamil Nadu Coastal Panchayats Resource Centre (SOHES, Mahabalipuram) and CASA in cooperation with KABANI - the other direction, Kerala.

Participants at the meeting called upon government to critically review existing tourism projects all over the coast before proposing new projects. For the promotion of tourism and the generation of profits, the tourism industry in Tamil Nadu strongly depends on the nature, local resources and local communities. Yet, after the tsunami the contribution of the tourism industry to reconstruction and rehabilitation of coastal livelihoods has been insignificant or almost nil. In several areas along the coast, tourism has constantly violated and diluted Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notifications and has increased the vulnerability of coastal communities in the tsunami context. To strengthen coastal zone protection, participants at the meeting called for an integrated Coastal Regulation Zone Act instead of time-to-time notifications. The integrity of coastal ecosystems should be preserved and enhanced, including the protection of mangroves, which during the tsunami proved to be an effective protection against the waves in areas where they have not been destroyed.

In view of the fact that many tsunami-affected communities still live in temporary shelters without land for permanent housing allocated to them, participants urged the government of Tamil Nadu to acquire land for the affected communities under the Land Acquisition Act instead of negotiating for land. Preference must be given to the sustainable livelihoods of fishing communities rather than tourism development.

In Karikattukuppam (Muttukkadu Panchayat, Kancheepuram District), where the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has 40 acres of land, the community evicted from the coast and currently staying in temporary shelter on this land demands a minimum of 13 acres to be given to them for permanent housing. Land title deeds (“patta”) must be given to the fisher folk in all the coastal areas.

Participants at the meeting cautioned panchayat leaders against agreeing to the displacement of coastal communities. For the safety of the fisher folk, a relocation of tsunami-affected people towards safer locations may be acceptable, provided that easy access to the sea and an unobstructed view of the sea are guaranteed. However, no further development (including tourism) should be allowed within 500 metres from the high tide line (HTL), which is to be defined by the local panchayats. The meeting strongly warned against the strategic eviction of fishing communities to make way for future development of tourism.

Participants at the meeting stressed the need to critically analyse and monitor proposed tourism projects including those proposed by international agencies such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank. Tourism projects and other projects must be made transparent and subject to approval by local panchayats, with prior informed consent from the communities.

For further information, please contact:

M. A. Sekar Tamil Nadu Panchayat Resourse Centre SOHES (Mahabalipuram) Tel. +91 9444147202 E-mail:

Sumesh Mangalassery KABANI - the other direction (Kerala) Tel. +91 9447546584 E-mail: www.kabani.org (external link)


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