KOZHIKODE: The state government’s much-touted proposal to establish ‘Marine Ambulance’ in major fishing centres in the state to help fishermen in adverse situations has failed to take off owing to various reasons.
The proposal to establish ‘Marine Ambulance’ in five centres at Vizhinjam, Neendakara, Vypeen, Beypore and Azheekkal was made in the state budget for 2013-14 with a budget allocation of `3 crore, but not a single vessel has hit the seas more than a year after it was mooted.
According to officials, the proposal is aimed at deploying vessels equipped with modern medical facilities to provide immediate care to victims of mishaps at sea.
“Owing to adverse weather and boat mishaps, fishermen in the state are often caught in difficult situations. In such emergency situations, making use of the assistance from Navy and Coast Guard involves cumbersome procedures and consequent delay. It is necessary to provide emergency help in case of accidents and the ‘Marine Ambulances’ were proposed in the 2013-14 budget considering this,” said an official with the Fisheries Department.
Although the government had invited tenders for one such ambulance in December last year, officials said that the tenders submitted had quoted an excess amount. “As directed by the Fisheries Department, Kerala Ports had prepared a detailed report with specification and price of the vessel. Based on this the government had invited tenders for one vessel, but the bids quoted an excess amount. As such a final decision is pending and should only be taken at the ministerial level,” sources said.
The proposed ‘Marine Ambulance’ has facilities including a rest cabin, toilets and kitchen for longer stay in the sea. The vessel will also have an ICU and three to four beds and dinghies for rescue operations in the areas close to the coast, along with modern communication system and high-powered flashlights for rescue operations and night vision system. Jackson Pollayil, general secretary, Kerala Independent Fish Workers Federation, says: “the ‘Marine Ambulance’ was proposed to aid the fishermen in emergency situations. But it is unfortunate that it remains on paper. This shows the neglect of the government in protecting the lives of fishermen who venture into sea braving difficult situations.”
“Other than mishaps occurring due to adverse weather conditions, fishermen while on seas often meet with accidents and life-threatening situations like cardiac arrests which need immediate medical attention. In situations like these ‘Marine Ambulance’ can play an important role in saving the lives of people. The government should immediately initiate steps to implement the proposal and make it to good use,” he added.