KOCHI: With constant sea accidents in Kerala coast, the state government has decided to form Sea Rescue Squad (SRS) comprising fishermen and their vessels across Kerala. The government has given sanction to the Fisheries department to go ahead with forming SRS and manage sea rescue operations in marine villages.
According to a top official with the Fisheries Department, there are 222 marine villages in Kerala. The intention of the department is to form SRS is all these villages. The plan will be implemented in different phases. "The last week the state government has sanctioned Rs 7 crores for forming SRS. In the first phase, the SRS will be formed at 60 marine villages. We would be providing training to the SRS members on sea rescue operations, life-saving, power boat handling, sea safety equipment operation and other disaster management techniques. The fishermen will be also trained in coordinating communications with different agencies. The fund for the project has been sanctioned from Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF)," he said.
As per the proposal, an SRS unit will have fishing vessels and three crew members each, in total 15 fishermen in each group. SRS will be based at fishing harbours where the mechanised fishing vessels of SRS would be concentrated. At the fish landing centre, there will be smaller vessels. "We will not be providing boats as persons having vessels will be included in SRS. We would be providing communication equipment, distress alert transmitters, life jackets, life buoys, torch, uniform and other essential sea safety equipment.," an officer said.
Under emergency conditions, sea rescue operations will be conducted by hiring SRS vessels and service of SRS members for which remuneration would be provided by the government. "We have not fixed the remuneration till now. The marine villages where the SRS to be formed in the first phases have to be identified. In next three phases, we are looking to introduce SRS in all marine villages," the officer said.
There have been around 15 collisions of fishing vessels with larger ships in the coast of Kerala since 2013. Similarly, numerous fishermen turn victims of high-sea with several lives lost annually.