KOCHI: Chinese nets are synonymous with Fort Kochi. However, of late, this iconic symbol of Kochi is slowly losing out to the ravages of time. According to fishermen who depend on these structures to eke out a living, nets will soon be a thing of the past if something isn’t done now. “We are finding it difficult to get the wood used to make cantilever,” said Sebastian Kurishingal, vice-president of Chinese Net Owners Association.
Though a contract was signed by Kerala Industrial and Technology Consultancy Organisation (KITCO) for acquiring teak logs to renovate the Chinese nets, nothing happened, he alleged. According to him, the fishermen have not received any help from the government or the Tourism Department in this regard.“There were over 14 Chinese nets at Fort Kochi. However, the flood and continual action of the tide destroyed many, leaving just seven,” said Sebastian.
However, the Fisheries Department said the majority of the nets is not licensed. “We provide the benefits of all schemes to these fishermen. However, the only criterion is that the nets need to be licensed,” said an officer with the Fisheries Department. But, Sebastian begs to differ.
According to him, all the existing nets have a licence and are registered with the Cochin Port Trust. “Till now we have not received a single penny from the government,” added Sebastian. “Discussions were held and promises made by the Fisheries Department regarding the upgrading of the Chinese net. But, it seems KITCO does not have the resources,” he said.
Water metro is yet another cause of concern. “We are not against the project. But, the construction of the boat jetty will be an inconvenience since we will have to move the nets to a different place,” said Sebastian. However, KMRL sources said the construction of water metro terminal does not pose any danger to the Chinese nets or the activities there.