Accident-prone harbours in Kerala to have rescue forces

Top on the list are Muthalappozhi, Kasaragod, and Vizhinjam, says Fisheries Minister

Trained rescue forces will be deployed in accident-prone harbours in the State, with Muthalappozhi, Kasaragod, and Vizhinjam on the top of the priority list, Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian told the Assembly on Wednesday.

Replying to questions regarding frequent boat accidents leading to loss of lives of fishworkers at Muthalappozhi in Thiruvananthapuram district, Mr. Cherian said that unscientific construction of the harbour had led to accidents.

On the stretch of coast from Anchuthengu to Veli, 58 fishworkers have died in accidents since 2011. As per the FIRs filed in coastal police stations, 11 fishworkers have died at the Muthalappozhi harbour in the five-year period from 2016, out of which two deaths happened this year. Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan and M. Vincent, MLA, said the promise of dredging, made in the Assembly previously, had been delayed.

Sand deposit, a reason

Mr. Cherian said accidents had increased due to the depositing of sand at the harbour mouth. An understanding has been arrived at with the Adani Group for dredging at Muthalappozhi. A grab dredger has been brought to the site. The Ernakulam-based Ultratech Agency has been tasked with conducting an Environment Impact Assessment ahead of the implementation of a permanent sand bypassing system for shifting the sand accumulated at the south side of Muthalappozhi to the north side, where there is severe coastal erosion.

An expert team from the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, will visit the Muthalappozhi harbour within a week to study the unscientific construction of the harbour and to propose corrective steps. The report will be put up for public debate, before further steps are taken, said Mr. Cherian.

Annual dredging

The Minister said annual dredging had to be carried out at the harbour mouth before the monsoon season. Most accidents involving fishing boats had happened within five nautical miles of the coast. A rescue system in cooperation with the Union Government was required. There is a need to carry out maintenance work on the groynes too.

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