On Thursday, the invigorating smell of fried fish was an enticing invitation for those who thronged the fish market in Chinna Neelankarai on the ECR. The residents repared delicacies including sura puttu, kadama thokku, era and vanjaram fry and fish kolumbu and served them to guests.
The residents of Kottivakkam, Palavakkam, Chinna Neelankarai, Periya Neelankarai, Chinnandikuppam and Injambakkam came together to prepare a sumptuous meal for guests, including the Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar. V. Sumathi of Chinna Neelankarai said that this was the second fish festival they had organised in the last two weeks. “Each of us has lost some ₹40,000 in the aftermath of the oil spill in north Chennai. In place of 30 persons a day, we are getting 1-2 customers and we make only ₹20-₹30 a day,” she said.
R. Hemavathi, another fish seller, said customers were worried that after the oil spill, consuming fish could lead to skin problems. “This is not true. We consume fish every day and nothing has happened to us. The government is yet to give us compensation for our losses,” she said.
Mr. Jayakumar, who later addressed the gathering, said that the department had conducted scientific studies to prove that the fish caught off the shores of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram was safe for consumption.
“This is a good time to buy fish since prices are low and after a few weeks, the fishing ban would come into force. The Fisheries University has certified that it is safe for us to consume fish,” he said.
The University had asked the Fisheries Research Institute in Ponneri to lift nine samples and they were tested for 10 parametres. These fish were also compared with samples caught from non-oil areas, explained a source.