THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Dredging will begin at Muthalappozhi on Monday for deepening the harbour mouth and finding a solution to the problems caused by the unscientific construction of the breakwater. The Adani Group has undertaken the work on a request by the state government. “The dredger is in place. The plan is to deepen the harbour channel by three to four metres,’’ an official of the group said. Further, the Adani Group has plans to use the Muthalappozhi harbour as one of the loading points for rocks for the construction of the breakwater for the Vizhinjam port, sources said.
According to the fishermen here, scores of their colleagues had lost their lives in this location after the construction of the breakwater which has transformed the water flow in a big way. The incidents had kicked up a major controversy forcing the government to take a re-look at the breakwater construction and suggest remedies. Work will begin at 9.30 am on Monday. The biggest challenge in dredging the area is removing the rocks that lie scattered on the bed after getting dislodged from the breakwater. The aim is to complete the dredging before the Southwest monsoon sets in over Kerala in June.
In 2016, with the latest fishing boat accident in Muthalappozhi leaving hundreds of fishermen families in dread, government agencies had approached the Adani Group, the concessionaire for the Rs 7525 crore Vizhinjam seaport project, for assistance to clear the harbour mouth. Muthalappozhi lies to the north, near Chirayinkeezhu, and the fishermen there have been complaining for long about the unscientific construction of breakwaters for the fisheries harbour.
At Thazhampalli, to the north of the breakwaters, coastal erosion has carved away the beach in its entirety. In the middle of summer, huge waves lash the houses at Thazhampalli while the sea is extraordinarily calm at Perumathura to the south where the beach has been left intact. The families in Thazhampalli live in fear during the monsoons, when the waves lash over the low sea wall and over their houses. But even during the summer, the difference in the character of the sea to the north of the breakwater and to its south is amply evident.
The construction of the breakwater began in 2004, and ever since, fishermen have been demanding a review of the project. The changes in water flow were noticed after the construction of the breakwaters, according to the local people.