Cyclone Michaung wreaks havoc on lives of fishermen in villages near Vijayawada

The cyclone’s aftermath brought heavy winds to Vijayawada, lasting over three hours, leaving the already vulnerable fishermen with no opportunity to move their boats to safety. 
Fishermen trying to recover an overturned boat at Gollapudi near Vijayawada on Wednesday. (Prasant Madugula)
Fishermen trying to recover an overturned boat at Gollapudi near Vijayawada on Wednesday. (Prasant Madugula)

VIJAYAWADA: Cyclone Michaung unleashed unexpected havoc on the lives of fishermen in the Gollapudi, Bhavanipuram, and Tummalapalem villages near Vijayawada.

Among them, 63-year-old fisherman Karri Peerayya and his grandson, Vinod, experienced a profound disruption when their country-made fishing boat fell victim to fierce winds on a fateful Tuesday night. 

This calamity wasn’t exclusive to Peerayya, more than 50 country-made fishing boats in the region suffered extensive damage due to the relentless gusts. 

The cyclone’s aftermath brought heavy winds to Vijayawada, lasting over three hours, leaving the already vulnerable fishermen with no opportunity to move their boats to safety. 

Peerayya, expressing his distress, shared, “This is the only thing I have, which has been helpful to earn for me and my 20-year-old grandson. Now I have to take out a loan to repair my boat and start my life again.”

The financial toll on Peerayya was substantial, with an estimated loss of Rs 1 lakh. The motor was damaged, the fishing net torn, and the boat suffered structural damage, including a turned-over position with breaks in the main chamber and other cracks.

While some fishermen faced minor damages, others saw their boats completely shattered. Faced with the urgent need for recovery, the fishermen took matters into their own hands and initiated boat repairs.

Peerayya, however, emphasised the arduous nature of the task, stating, “Repairing a damaged boat is a herculean task for us, as we are forced to change the entire thing—a time-taking process. It takes at least a month to see my damaged boat in running condition. Meanwhile, I have to borrow money from others to support my family.” 

The broader fishing community echoed similar sentiments, emphasising irreparable damage to their livelihoods. 

They appealed to the State government for assistance during these challenging times, urging financial support to overcome the losses incurred due to boat damages.  

Fisherman Simhadri stressed the collective plight, revealing, “Every fisherman in Gollapudi suffered an average loss of Rs 1 lakh as the fishing nets, motors, and boats got damaged while some were drowned. The collector should pay a visit and provide financial assistance.” 

Additionally, the fishermen sought intervention from the collector to secure a designated space for storing their boats to prevent further damages. 

Lack of proper storage space, compounded by restrictions on using certain lands, contributed to the vulnerability of their livelihoods.

Fisherman Malli Babu lamented, “Had we had a space to keep our boats instead of leaving them in waters, the damage could not have happened.” 

The fishermen urged authorities to address these challenges and extend support to safeguard their means of living.

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