More than 100 boats, including that of the Police and the Fishing departments, have been trapped in the Thottappally fishing harbour due to sand accumulation.
The absence of proper dredging has resulted in the piling up of sand. The lethargic attitude of the Harbour Engineering Department caused such a situation, fishermen at the harbour said.
The trawling ban will end on July 31 and the fishermen are worried that they would not be able to move boats from the harbour. Repeated requests and strikes by the fishermen fell on deaf rears. Boats arriving to unload their catch also cannot enter the harbour.
The fishermen of as many as 200 fishing boats depend on the harbour. Even small fishing boats cannot enter the harbour, said Manoharan, a fishermen.
Though Harbour Engineering Department has invited the tender for the dredging works there are no takers for the work.
The state government has allotted Rs 58 lakh for the work.
Two small boats of police and one big boat of the Fisheries Department are anchored at the harbour for the rescue services. However, they got stuck on sand bars and cannot be used during an emergency. “The Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) has a dredger in Alappuzha. But the Harbour Engineering Department prefers to entrust the work to some other contractors. It is a time-consuming process but the officials will have monetary benefit”, Thottappally ward member Raju C said.
Gopi, a fishermen from Thottappally, said that it will take at least 3 to 6 months to complete the dredging work. When Fisheries Minister K Babu visited the harbour on June 1, the fishermen detained him demanding his intervention in the issue.
“He had promised that immediate steps would be taken to sort out the problem. But he failed to take any action in this regard till date. If contractors are not ready to do the work, the work should be given to the DCI, said Rajesh P, a worker at the harbour.