Not even one ambulance in vicinity, fishing harbours fraught with danger in Thoothukudi

However, the fisheries department officials believe fishers from the Thoothukudi harbour can take treatment from nearby hospitals.

Published: 15th September 2022 01:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2022 01:42 AM   |  A+A-

Fishing boats docked at Kalamukku harbour near Vypeen in Kochi

Representational Image (Photo| Albin Mathew, EPS)

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Raising concerns about the frequent accidents at harbours, fishermen rue the lack of basic medical facilities in the vicinity, such as an ambulance, to attend them in case of emergencies. Replying to an RTI filed by activist Michael, authorities revealed that over 87 fishermen have died at sea and on the road between Vembar and Periyathalai since 2017. "Accidents and injuries are frequent in the fishing industry, however the demand for a medical care centre to attend such cases is being ignored," said Michael.

Thoothukudi district has three fishing harbours consisting of centres that auction fish and mend the fishnets, and many small boat jetties for country crafts function at coastal fishing hamlets. Apart from fishermen, workers in ancillary jobs like ice bar suppliers, rickshaw pullers and fish traders frequent the harbours from faraway locations.

Stating that it is not just accidents that are a hurdle for the fishers, activist Gunasekaran said they are prone to fishes like Thirukkaimeen (stingray), Anjalapampu (sea snakes) and poisonous jellyfish. "As far as Vembar harbour is concerned, they need to be taken to the Primary Health Centre, which has limited resources. Those who need immediate medical attention would have to be shifted to Vilathikulam government hospital, which is located 24 km away from the harbour. An ambulance service or upgradation of Vembar PHC into a government hospital would help in saving lives," he added.

A fishermen association leader, Churchill of Tharuvaikulam, said fishers involved in any kind of accident,  had to be taken to Vepalodai hospital 13 km away. "In case of serious emergencies, victims are rushed to Thoothukudi medical college hospital, which is located 15 km away. The long term demand for an ambulance is still pending," he said, urging the fisheries department to initiate steps for a standby ambulance at Tharuvaikulam. Another leader said authorities have ignored the demand for a medical care centre or a mobile hospital at Thoothukudi fishing harbour. However, the fisheries department officials believe fishers from the Thoothukudi harbour can take treatment from nearby hospitals.

Speaking to TNIE, Fisheries department Joint Director Amal Xavier said an analysis was conducted on the fatal accidents happening offshore, which revealed that the lack of safety gear is a predominant reason for fishermen to drown.

"In order to mitigate fatalities, the State government has urged fishermen to carry the safety gears and other life saving equipment. For offshore accidents, the department will make arrangements at the harbour to immediately shift the victims to the nearby hospitals, long before they reach the shore. So facilities like a medical care centre at fishing harbours are unnecessary. However, we are looking into the demand for ambulances," he said.


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