Jegathaipattanam Harbour, Pudukottai

Attack of the Indian Armada.

Human greed, spearheaded is waging a successful battle to kill all life in the waters of the Palk Strait that separates India and Sri Lanka. But it's a war our soldiers, the fishermen, are going to lose.

We have already succeeded in converting the Indian side of the Strait into a lifeless desert with destructive trawling methods. Now our trawlers head out every day to destroy what still survives on the Sri Lankan side.

A civil war and a trawling ban has helped the fish on the other side survive, but only just. Three days a week, Indian trawlers are allowed to go for the kill thanks to an agreement with the Sri Lankans. But we are Indians and our greed is a Billion strong. We use destructive trawling methods, we fish on days when we are not allowed to, we use larger nets than what is allowed, we also use illegal high power boats that trawl at a higher speed than regular trawlers, to name a few methods of assured destruction. All thanks to the common god that all Indians believe in - corruption. In this case, it's the local fisheries department that allows us to bypass every rule for a price. And yes, we cannot ban trawling. It rakes in crores now but will make millions of fishermen starve in a few years time because the fishermen who are dredging their own watery graves are a large vote bank.

Yes, the fishermen know that they are killing all the fish for generations to come but it's the now that matters, not tomorrow. There are loans that allowed them to buy their powerful boats and nets to pay.

But why blame our fishermen? Isn't that exactly how we Indians treat everything we have. Make money now, let someone else worry about the future.

Who will save us from ourselves?

To get the full story, read Rohini Mohan's report on Tehelka here.


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