Tranquebar today has a population of about 10,000 residents, and fishing remains the main economic activity for its very large traditional fishing community. Social development efforts by the Government and organizations like The Bestseller Fund, St. Joseph’s Development Trust (SJDT), INTACH, and Upasana have created substantial work avenues for the inhabitants of this village.
Under SJDT’s Community based intervention for rebuilding the lives of poor people affected by the tsunami, 30 SHGs have been set up in Tranquebar village. This benefits 394 villagers. Tranquebar block which consists of 18 villages surrounding the main village has 144 SHGs which benefits hundreds of villagers. Apart from conducting workshops and training programmes for the SHG members, money saving and loan distribution for starting income generating activities such as setting up a petty-shop/ tea stall/brick chamber, cow rearing, vegetable selling and coconut leaves weaving form the core of SHG activities.
Under SJDT’s Coastal plantation programme many women from the SHGs in Tranquebar block receive employment. They are very poor and depend upon daily income. With this income they are able to support their family members and help their children to continue education.
Under SJDT’s ‘Programme for Disabled People’ differently-abled people are given training on the concept of disability and rights of differently-abled people. Micro-credits are distributed, they are informed about Government welfare schemes and those who can work are recommended to the local body to provide jobs under the ‘100 days of work for the rural poor act’ (NREGA).
For carrying out restoration work in Tranquebar, INTACH employs local population. According to estimates given by INTACH office, about a 100 people benefit by way of daily wage earning from INTACH restoration sites. Also, 27 workers are employed by INTACH under its ‘Solid Waste Management’ banner. They are entrusted with the job of cleaning, sweeping and segregating waste from the houses in and around Tranquebar.
Upasana, a design studio based in Auroville has taken up the task to revive the craft of Tranquebar by merging traditional craftsmanship with contemporary designs and thus, creating a livelihood opportunity. Having selected six crafts to begin with, namely, bamboo, coconut, sea shell, palm leaf, wood and terracotta, Upasana aims at livelihood betterment through training, communication and product development.