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This article is about the city in Tamil Nadu, India. For its namesake district, see Thoothukudi District

Nickname(s): Pearl City, Salt Capital of Tamil Nadu, Sea Gateway of Tamil Nadu.[1]
Tuticorin is located in Tamil Nadu
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Thoothukudi
 • Type Mayor–council government
 • Body Thoothukudi Municipal Corporation
 • Mayor Antony grace
 • Total 50.66 km2 (19.56 sq mi)
Area rank 10
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 410,760[3]
 • Rank 10
 • Official Tamil,English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 628 0xx
Telephone code 91 (0) 461
Vehicle registration TN-69
Literacy 92.10[3]
Lok Sabha constituency Thoothukudi
Vidhan Sabha constituency Thoothukudi
Civic agency Thoothukudi Municipal Corporation
Climate Aw (Köppen)

Tuticorin, also known as Thoothukudi is a port city and a Municipal Corporation and an industrial city in Thoothukudi district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The city lies in the Coromandel Coast off Bay of Bengal. Thoothukudi is the headquarters of Thoothukudi District. It is located about 590 kilometres (367 mi) south of Chennai and 190 kilometres (118 mi) northeast of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). According to Confederation of Indian Industry, Tuticorin has the second highest Human Development Index in Tamil Nadu next to Chennai.[4] Tuticorin City serves as the headquarters of Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited. Major educational establishments in the city include Thoothukudi Government Medical College, Fisheries College and Research Institute,[5] Marine Training Academy, V.O.C. Arts & Science College, Government Polytechnic College,[6] and Anna University Tuticorin Campus.[7]Tuticorin Port is one of the Fastest growing Major Ports in India.Tuticorin is an "Emerging Energy and Industrial hub of South India".[8]

Thoothukudi is known as "Pearl City" due to the pearl fishing carried out in the town. It is a commercial seaport which serves the inland cities of Southern India and is one of the sea gateways of Tamil Nadu. It is also one of the major seaports in India with a history dating back to the 6th century AD. The city is believed to be of significant antiquity and has been ruled, at different times, by the Early Pandyas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Ma'bar Sultanate, Tirunelveli Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Chanda Sahib, Carnatic kingdom, Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Thoothukudi was settled by the Portuguese, Dutch and later by the British East India Company. The city is administered by a Thoothukudi Municipal Corporation covering an area of 90.663 km2 (35.005 sq mi) and had a population of 237,830 in 2011. The urban agglomeration had a population of 410,760 as of 2011.[3]

The majority of the people of the city are employed in salt pans, sea-borne trading, fishing, and tourism. A major attraction in the city is Our Lady of Snows Basilica, a 16th-century site. The 21 islands between Thoothukudi and Rameswaram shores in the Gulf of Mannar are noted as the first Marine Biosphere Reserve of India, and have around 36,000 species of flora and fauna. This protected area is called Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. Our Lady of Snows Basilica festival is celebrated annually during August. This and the Shiva temple festivals, e.g., Adi Amavasai, Sasti, and Chittirai chariot festivals – are the major festivals of the area. Roadways are the major mode of transport to Thoothukudi, while the city also has rail, air, and sea transport.


  • History 1
  • Geography and climate 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
    • Tuticorin Port 4.1
    • Madurai-Tuticorin Industrial Corridor 4.2
  • Entertainment and leisure 5
  • Transport 6
  • Municipal administration and politics 7
  • Education and utility services 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


View of the Dutch port Tuticorin, in 1752

Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) is also known by the name 'Thiru mandira Nagar'.It is also called as "Sea Gateway of Tamil Nadu"[9] Thoothukudi is part of the Pearl Fishery Coast, and is known for its pearl fishing and shipbuilding industries.[10] Thoothukudi was the seat of Portuguese during the 16th century, and the Dutch occupied in the 17th century. During the 18th century the British overpowered and occupied the town. Being a port town, the town received attention from the rulers for improving their trade, and so it was brought to Municipal status in 1866.[11]

On the 20th of October 1986, a new district, carved out of the erstwhile Tirunelveli district was born in Tamil Nadu and named after V.O. Chidambaranar, a prominent national leader hailing from Ottapidaram who led the Swadeshi Movement in the south. Since 1997, as is the case in other districts of Tamil Nadu, this district has been named after its headquarters town, Thoothukudi.

Thoothukudi became the citadel of freedom struggles in the early of the 20th century. It was in Thoothukudi that the illustrious patriot, V.O. Chidambaram established the first swadesi Stream Navigation Company, sailing the first steamer S.S.Gaelia to Thoothukudi on 1 June 1907.[12]

The minor port of the Thoothukudi anchorage port with lighter age facilities has had flourishing traffic for over a century. The first wooden jetty of this port was commissioned in 1864. This port was used for export of salt, cotton yarn, senna leaves, palmyrah stalks, palmyrah fibres, dry fish, country drugs, and other goods to neighboring countries and for import of coal, cotton, copra, pulses and grains. The minor port of the Thoothukudi has the distinction of being the intermediate port handling the highest traffic tonnage of over 1 million per annum[12]

The major harbour of Thoothukudi is well known as a pearl diving and fishing center. It is one of the oldest seaports in the world and was the seaport of the Pandyan kingdom after Korkai, near Palayakayal. It was later taken over by the Portuguese in 1548, captured by the Dutch in 1658, and ceded to the British in 1825. The lighthouse built in 1842 marked the beginning of the history of harbour development in the city. Thoothukudi was established as a Municipality in 1866 with Roche Victoria as its first chairman. It attained the status of Corporation on 5 August 2008 after 142 years of being a municipality.Thoothukudi Corporation is divided into 60 wards after its expansion in the year 2011 and these wards are comprised in four zones—i.e., East, West, North, and South. East zone has 14–16 and 19–33 wards, West zone has 34–47 wards, North zone has 1–13 and 17, 18 wards and South zone has 48–60 wards[13][14]

Geography and climate

Murugan Temple, Thiruchendur,Thoothukudi

Thoothukudi is a port town situated in the Gulf of Mannar about 125 km (78 mi) North of Cape Commorin and its environs form part of the coastal belt which forms a continuous stretch of the flat country relieved here and there by small rockout crops. The region, surrounding Thoothukudi is liberally dotted with rain fed tanks. Red soils found on the southern side of the Tuticorin town is composed quartz and variable quantities of fine red dry dust. The port is an all weather one. The bay formed by the Hare Island, Devils point and the main land gives ample protection to the lighters from monosonic weather.The beach of Tuticorin is featured with calm breeze and very low waves giving an image of a big river.[15]

Thoothukudi is located at . Thoothukudi is located in South India, on the Gulf of Mannar, about 540 km (340 mi) south of Chennai and 125 km (78 mi) north of Kanyakumari. The hinterlands of the port of the city is connected to the districts of Madurai, Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram and Tiruchirapalli. The city mostly has a flat terrain and roughly divided into two by the Buckle channel. Being in coastal region, the soil is mostly clay sandy and the water table varies between 1 m (3.3 ft) to 4 m (13 ft) below ground level. The city has loose soil with thorny shrubs in the north and salt pans in the south. The city experiences tropical climatic conditions characterised with immensely hot summer, gentle winter and frequent rain showers. Summer extends between March and June when the climate is very humid. Tuticorin registers the maximum temperature of 39 °C (102 °F) and the minimum temperature of 32 °C (90 °F).The city receives adequate rainfall during the months of October and November.[16] The city receives around 444 mm (17.5 in) rainfall from the Northeast monsoon, 117.7 mm (4.63 in) during summer, 74.6 mm (2.94 in) during winter and 63.1 mm (2.48 in) during the South-west monsoon season. The coolest month is January and the hottest months are from May to June. The city has a very high humidity being in the coastal sector.[17]

The 21 islands between Thoothukudi and Rameswaram shores in the Gulf of Mannar are notified as the first Marine Biosphere Reserve of India. About 36,000 species of flora and fauna exist in the region covered with mangroves, sandy shores, sea grass beds that are conducive for turtle nesting.[18][19] The region around the Thoothukudi shores are home to rare marine flora and fauna. Coral reefs and pearl oysters are some of the exotic species while algae, reef fish, holothurians, shrimps, lobsters, crabs and Mollusca are very common.[19][20] Out of 600 recorded varieties of fish in the region, 72 are found to be commercially important.[21] The thermal discharge from the thermal plants and excessive brine run off from the salt pans impact the flora and fauna in the region to a large extent.[20][22]


Thoothukudi was a port town during the period of Portuguese, Dutch and British in the 16th–19th centuries. The city expanded after 1907 due to the presence of public establishments. Residential and industrial growth was maximum around Palayamkottai and Ettaiyapuram roads between 1907 and 1930.[25]

According to 2011 census, Thoothukudi city had a population of 237,830 with a sex-ratio of 1,010 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929.[26] A total of 24,959 were under the age of six, constituting 12,684 males and 12,275 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 7.42% and .1% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the city was 83.85%, compared to the national average of 72.99%.[26] The city had a total of 60,714 households. There were a total of 83,669 workers, comprising 114 cultivators, 154 main agricultural labourers, 1,498 in house hold industries, 77,420 other workers, 4,483 marginal workers, 69 marginal cultivators, 25 marginal agricultural labourers, 280 marginal workers in household industries and 4,109 other marginal workers.Tamil is spoken by most, and the standard dialect is the Thoothukudi Tamil dialect.English is also widely spoken.[24]

As of the provisional population totals of 2011 census, Thoothukudi urban agglomeration had a population of 410,760, with 205,459 males and 205,301 females. The sex ratio of the town was 999 and the child sex ratio stood at 980. Thoothukudi had an average literacy rate of 92.10% with male literacy being 94.84%, and female literacy being 89.37%. A total of 42,756 of the population of the city was under 6 years of age.[27]

NIght Scapes


salt pans under twilight
Salt pans in the city

Salt pans in and around the city contribute majorly to the economy of the city. The salt pans produce 1.2 million tonnes of salt every year, contributing to 90% of the salt produced in the state and 50% needed by the chemical industries of the state.[28] The other major industries are shipping, fishing, agricultural, power and chemical industries.Fishing is one of the largest contributor to the local economy.[29] Tuticorin Fishing Harbour is one of the oldest and largest in Tamil Nadu.[30][31] The Tuticorin Thermal Power Station has five 210 megawatt generators. The first generator was commissioned in July 1979. The thermal power plants under construction include the coal-based 1000 MW NLC TNEB Power Plant.In addition to this there are several private power plants like Ind Barath Power Limited,Coastal Energen, Sterlite Industries Captive power plant.[32] Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation,Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals, Heavy Water Board Plant, Sterlite Industries, Venus Home Appliances,Madura Coats and Mills,Dhrangadhra Chemical works,Kilburn Chemicals,[33][34] Nila Sea foods,Diamond Sea foods[35][36] Maris Associates, VVD Coconut oil mill,AVM oil mill, Ramesh flowers,Agsar Paints,[37] Tuticorin Spinning Mills Ltd[38] and KSPS Salts are some of the small scale and large scale industries in the city.Tuticorin City is the headquarters Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited.It is one of the fastest growing banks in India during the period of 2007-2012.Its total business is worth 360 billion.The bank targets a Total Business of 500 Billion INR in 2014-15.The city also has a research institute set up by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute[39] and a Spices laboratory set up by Spices Board of India.[31][40][41]

a ship standing in a port
Tuticorin Port

Tuticorin Thermal Power Station at Night

Tuticorin also has a State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Industrial Estate and SIDCO's Industrial Estate[42] which comprises several Small scale and Medium scale Industries.[43]

Tuticorin Port

To cope with the increasing trade through Thoothukudi, the Government of India sanctioned the construction of an all-weather Port at Thoothukudi. On 11 July 1974, the newly constructed Thoothukudi port was declared the tenth major port in India Second only to JN Port (Mumbai) in size. Thoothukudi is an artificial port.During the union budget of 2014-2015,Central government sanctioned an 11,500 crore Outer harbour development program for Tuticorin port which is expected to give a push to the export import sector in southern Tamil Nadu.The project would commence in 2015 and completed by 2020.The DPR for Outer Harbour was released recently by Union Shipping Minister.As a Port city,almost all major Logistics company have set up office in Tuticorin.[44][45] The Port also has a dedicated Container terminal operated by PSA International.The Port recently Commenced the operation of 2nd Container Terminal by ABG(DBGIT) Pvt Ltd.The port handled 0.5 million TEU's in 2013-2014 to become third largest container port among Major Ports of India.The port is also a significant port due to the fact that it is located close to East-West International Sea Route.[4]

The port has direct cargo and container vessel connectivity to all major ports in the world like Colombo, Singapore, JNPT(Mumbai), Mundra, Jebel Ali, Salalah, Rotterdam, Karachi, Hong Kong and much more.[46] This is the third international port in Tamil Nadu and its second all-weather port.[47] The port also helps to increase the tourism in the region. A new ferry has been commenced between Thoothukudi and Colombo.The Station Commander, Indian Coast Guard Station Tuticorin is located at Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu under the operational and administrative control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), Chennai. The Coast Guard Station Tuticorin was commissioned on 25 Apr 91 by Vice Admiral SW Lakhar, NM, VSM the then Director General Coast Guard. The Station Commander is responsible for Coast Guard operations in this area of jurisdiction in Gulf of Mannar.[48]

Madurai-Tuticorin Industrial Corridor

Tuticorin is the end point of the proposed Madurai-Tuticorin Industrial Corridor.The study for this Corridor was completed by the Government of Tamil Nadu recently.[49] The Corridor would consist of four manufacturing regions,one agri-business region,two business investment regions,a special tourism zone,one rural tourism hub and one knowledge hub.The government estimates that this Corridor would attract 1,90,000 crore industrial investment over a period of 10 years.The State Government recently formed a Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV) for Speedy implementation of the Project.The upcoming new railway line from Madurai to Tuticorin via Aruppukotai,Ettayapuram would serve as the backbone for the development of this corridor.[50][51]

Entertainment and leisure

Tuticorin has All India Radio Station which Carries AIR External Services for South Asia in English, Sinhala and Tamil (1053 kHz).[52] FM Radio Stations in Tuticorin City include Suryan FM (93.5 MHz), Hello FM (106.4 MHz). Tuticorin is the landing point for the first undersea cable of BSNL connecting Tuticorin with Colombo.[53]

The City has Tharuvai Multi Purpose Stadium which is maintained by Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. Tuticorin Gymkhana Club has two Synthetic Turf Tennis courts, Tuticorin is the only other place after Chennai in Tamil Nadu to have this modern facility.[54] Tuticorin is known for its bakery items especially Macaroon.[55] It is a light, baked confection including recipes like Almond, Coconut and Nut (fruit).Tuticorin macaroon is slightly different from European macaroon since it contains Cashew as a main ingredient.[56]

Tuticorin Macroons

The Shiva temple in the center of the town and the Our Lady of Snows Basilica are the major religious attractions in the city. The Church attracts lot of visitors around the country and is one of catholic pilgrimage centers in India dedicated to Virgin Mary. Roche Park located on the southern corner of the city, Harbour Beach park, Nehru Park located in the northern side of the city, Rajaji Park near the Government hospital and Pearl Beach are the primary attractions of the city. There are numerous islands located close to the city namely Hare Island, Nalla Thanni Island which attracts lot of visitors during weekends and festival seasons. The church festival celebrated yearly during August and the Shiva temple festivals like Adi Amavasai, Sasti and Chittirai chariot festivals are the major festivals of the land.[57]


Main Article:Transport in Thoothukudi

Port of Tuticorin during the Madras Presidency, c.a. 1913

Thoothukudi has an extensive transport network and is well-connected to other major cities by road, rail and air. The corporation maintains a total length of 428.54 km (266.28 mi). The city has 37.665 km (23.404 mi) concrete roads, 329.041 km (204.457 mi) black topped surface roads, 56.592 km (35.165 mi) water bound macadam roads and 5.242 km (3.257 mi) earthern roads.[58] The major roads within the city are NH 7A connecting Palayamkottai, Ettayapuram road(also called Madurai road) National Highway 45B (India), Ramanathapuram road or East Coast Road, Thiruchendur road or SH-176, West Cotton road and Victoria Extension Road. A bye pass road located outside the city connects the harbour, thermal plant, SPIC industry and Madurai Road. There are two bus stands in the city; the old bus stand is located in the Palayamkottai road and the new bus stand is located in the Ettaiyapuram road. Around 700 buses are operated from these two bus stands, catering the local and inter city transport.[59]

The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates daily services connecting various cities to Thoothukudi.A new regional headquarters of TNSTC is being established in Tuticorin which enables better transportation by government buses.The corporation operates a computerised reservation centre in the bus stand of the city.[60] The State Express Transport Corporation operates long distance buses connecting the city to important cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Kanyakumari. Thoothukudi being a harbour city has lot of container truck transport. As of 2008, the number of container trucks entering the city is 1000.[59] The expansion of ECR from Tuticorin to Kanyakumari via Tiruchendur and Koodankulam at a cost of 2.57 billion sanctioned and is in progress.[61]

Thoothukudi railway station is one of the oldest and popular railway stations in India.It is one of few stations in Southern Tamil Nadu to have Pitline facility for Cleaning and Maintenance of Rail Coaches facilitating the operation of Long distance Trains from Tuticorin.[62] The line between Madurai and Thoothukudi was opened in 1874.The lines connecting to Tuticorin is being electrified recently.Tuticorin has direct daily rail connectivity to Chennai,Bangalore,Mysore,Coimbatore,Madurai,Tirunelveli, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad, Okha etc.Pearl City Express which connects Tuticorin with Chennai is one of the Prestigious Trains of Southern Railway.An 8 Coach Link Train to Guruvayur Express has been introduced recently which connects Tuticorin with Chennai during daytime.[63] Tuticorin City railway station is one of the oldest[64] stations in India and South Indian Railway began a Madras – Tuticorin service connecting with the boat to Ceylon in 1899.[65] The station was declared a Model Station in 2007 and several infrastructure developments are in process.[66] There is also another station, known as Tuticorin Melur.[67]

Tuticorin Airport is at Vagaikulam, 14 km (9 mi) from the heart of the city.It has flights to Chennai Twice a day Operated by Spicejet. The State Government and Airport Authority of India plans to extend the runway and modernise the airport to handle to more traffic and bigger aircraft. The land acquisition process is completed and AAI is ready to start the expansion works. A new Terminal has been planned and the runway is to expanded to facilitate the movement of Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s.[68] There was also a proposal in 2009 for a greenfield airport.[69] Madurai Airport is the nearest international airport. Madurai Airport has daily International Connectivity to Colombo and Dubai. By mid 2014,it is expected to have flights to more International Destinations like Singapore and Malaysia and other Gulf Countries.

Tuticorin Port Trust recently renamed as V.O.Chidambaram Port is an artificial deep-sea harbour.A luxury ferry liner, the Scotia Prince, was operating a ferry service to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Ferry services between the two countries have been revived after more than 20 years.[70]

Municipal administration and politics

The Thoothukudi municipality was established in 1866 during British times. It was promoted to a municipal corporation in 2008, bringing an area of 90.663 km2 (35.005 sq mi) within the city limits. The municipal corporation has four zones namely East, West, North and South. The corporation has 60 wards and there is an elected councillor for each of those wards.[76] The functions of the corporation are devolved into six departments: general administration/personnel, Engineering, Revenue, Public Health, city planning and Information Technology (IT). All these departments are under the control of a Municipal Commissioner who is the executive head.[77] The legislative powers are vested in a body of 60 members, one each from the 60 wards.[78] The legislative body is headed by an elected Chairperson assisted by a Deputy Chairperson.[79] Thoothukudi city is the district headquarters for the Thoothukudi district.

Thoothukudi comes under the Thoothukudi assembly constituency and it elects a member to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly once every five years.[80] From the 1977 elections, the assembly seat was won by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for three times during 1989, 1996 and 2006 elections and All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) for six times during 1977, 1980, 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2011 elections.[81] The current MLA of the constituency is S.T. Chellapandian from AIADMK.[74]

The Thoothukudi Lok Sabha constituency was originally part of the Tirunelveli constituency and was delimited to Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi constituencies during 2009 Lok Sabha election. The constituency was formed after the 2008 delimitation with the following assembly constituencies;Tiruchendur, Srivaikuntam, Tuticorin, Ottapidaram, Kovilpatti and Vilathikulam[82] The current Member of parliament (MP) from the constituency is Jeyasingh Thyagaraj Natterjee (2014–present) from the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK).[75]

Education and utility services

There are 31 schools in Thoothukudi city, of which 10 are operated by the municipal corporation. There are 31 high schools and higher secondary schools, one of which is a government school.Tuticorin has high litracy rates and lower literacy rate gap between males and females.Tuticorin schools usually scores high honours during board examinations.[83] There are five arts and science colleges,three polytechnics in the city.It also has a Fisheries college in the outskirts.There is an Government Engineering college affiliated to Anna University on the highway to Tirunelveli, and many private engineering colleges on Tiruchedur road,Palayamkottai road.There is also a Government Medical college and Hospital. The colleges are affiliated to the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli. There are three Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and about 50 computer training centres also.The city has Government Medical College Hospital and new ESI Hospital is being constructed at the Bypass road.[84][85]

Electricity supply to the city is regulated and distributed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB).Usage of Plastic polythene bags is banned inside corporation limits. Thoothukudi is the headquarters of the Thoothukudi region of TNEB that has four divisions. The city along with its suburbs forms the Thoothukudi Electricity Distribution Circle. A Chief Distribution engineer is stationed at the regional headquarters.[86] Water supply is provided by the Thoothukudi City Corporation from the Tamirabarani with 8 overhead tanks. In the period 2010–2011, a total of 21 million litres of water was supplied everyday for households in the city.[87]

About 96 metric tonnes of solid waste are collected from the city every day by door-to-door collection and subsequently the source segregation and dumping is carried out by the sanitary department of the Thoothukudi Municipal corporation. The coverage of solid waste management had efficiency of 94% as of 2011.[88] The underground drainage system was constituted in 1984 and covers only certain zones of the corporation area. The remaining sewerage system for disposal of sullage is through septic tanks and public conveniences.[89] The corporation maintains a total of 69.47 kilometres (43.17 mi) of storm water drains.[90] The corporation operates five health posts throughout the city. Apart from these, there are various private hospitals and clinics that take care of the health care needs of the citizens.[91]

Thoothukudi comes under the Thoothukudi Telecom District of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India's state-owned telecom and internet services provider. Both Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Code division multiple access (CDMA) mobile services are available. Apart from telecom, BSNL also provides broadband internet service.[92] Thoothukudi is one of the few cities in India where BSNL's Caller Line Identification (CLI) based internet service Netone is available.[93]


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  • Urban Infrastructure report (2008). Conversion of City Corporate Plan into Business Plan (PDF) (Report). Tamilnadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  • J., Sacratees; R. Karthigarani (2008). Environment Impact Assessment. APH Publishing House.  

External links

  • Thoothukudi
  • Thoothukudi Corporation
  • Tuticorin Port Trust
  • V.O.Chidambaranar Port Trust
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