Rise in boat accidents sparks safety concerns at Muthalapozhi harbour in Kerala

They blame inadequate dredging and unscientific construction of the harbour for the recurring accidents.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  After a brief lull, the Muthalapozhi harbour has been witnessing a worrying surge in boat accidents. In the past five days, seven such incidents have been reported in the area, with the recent one on Wednesday wherein a boat carrying four fishermen capsized. Notably, no casualties were reported in these incidents as the fishermen were either rescued or able to swim to safety. However, the fishermen community has expressed growing concerns over the increasing risks to their lives at the harbour. 

They blame inadequate dredging and unscientific construction of the harbour for the recurring accidents. The two breakwaters, intended to facilitate the harbour, have turned out to be a danger for the fishermen. Since 2015, over 60 fishermen have lost their lives in boat accidents in the channel. The most recent major accident occurred in August last year that claimed the lives of five fishermen, with one remaining untraced. Apart from the loss of life, these accidents have caused significant damage to their boats. 

“Fishing in the area has become too risky. We highlighted the difficulties to the fisheries minister during a recent meeting. So far, no concrete action has been taken,” said Valerian Isaac, district president of the Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation.

Fishermen want the sand formation at the mouth of the breakwaters to be dredged out to ensure the smooth passage of boats. When sand accumulates, boats either hit the dunes and lose control or are slammed by waves into the rocky parts of the breakwater. Though the government has made attempts to remove the sand and rocks, the efforts were only partially completed. Adani Ports was entrusted with dredging the area to transport rocks in barges for the Vizhinjam port project.

Fishermen allege that the dredging activities have either been stopped or being carried out rarely. “They carry out dredging during the off-season when the sea is calm. However, no dredging takes place during rough seasons -- June and July. I have been urging the government to temporarily close down the harbour during this period to save lives,” said Nelson Isaac, state secretary of Matysa Thozhilali Congress. 
Over 400 boats operate from Muthalapozhi, and fishing villages, including Anchuthengu, Thazhampally, Mampalli, and Poonthura, depend solely on the harbour. 

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express