India Uncut - The Tsunami Posts

At the end of December 2004 and the beginning of January 2005, I travelled through the tsunami-affected areas of Tamil Nadu, India. These are the posts from just before, during and after my trip that I wrote for my blog, India Uncut.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Despatches 33: The hoax about contaminated fish

Warnings have recently been released, all along the coast, asking people not to eat fish from the Tamil Nadu coast as they may be contaminated, having possibly eaten dead bodies. This is a ridiculous warning, says Nityanand Jayaraman, an independent journalist and activist. “They [the government] routinely dump nuclear waste, toxic waste and the city’s shit into the rivers, and they’re worried about fish that have eaten people? It’s ridiculous.”

Jayaraman points out that in any case you can’t be sure that any fish you’re eating hasn’t eaten a body, as bodies float out to sea all the time anyway, and the Ganga is, in fact, a reservoir of dead bodies. Also, 2000 or so bodies floating out into the sea, dispersed along the coast, hardly constitutes a reasonable reason to assume that fish could be contaminated. Scientifically, this belief does not hold water. Could there be another motive for the warning then?

Well, yes. The chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha, has long been known for her desire to own coastal land, and this represents a great opportunity for both her and her government to acquire large quantities of coastal land, which would make for extremely valuable real estate. But how does one usurp it if the fishermen are to be rehabilitated? One way could be by diverting them elsewhere so that they change their livelihood. A small number of them may already want to do so, and this number can be increased by destroying the market for fish, or by not allowing fishermen to fish for an extended period of time, which is also being done by the government as a “precautionary measure”.

This is, at the moment, just a conspiracy theory, and I normally ignore those. But some conspiracy theories do turn out to have some truth in them, and the warning about contaminated fish, coming from the government, make no sense.
amit varma, 8:00 PM| write to me | email this to a friend | permalink