Fishers relent after assurance on dredging


Sandbank leading to accidents at Kannur harbour mouth

Local fishermen, who were on a path of agitation demanding dredging of the harbour mouth after yet another boat hit the sandbank there, have called off their stir following an assurance by the administration that the dredging works will resume on August 20.

The fishing boat suffered damages after it hit the sandbank at the mouth of the Mappila Bay fishing harbour on August 4.

Irate fishermen started an indefinite agitation in front of the office of the Harbour Engineering Department (HED) at the Fisheries Complex here on August 6.

The stir was called off following the assurance given at a meeting convened by Additional District Magistrate Muhammad Yusuf on August 8 that dredging works to remove silt at the mouth of the harbour would start on August 20.

Siltation threat

The siltation at the mouth of the harbour posed a threat to the fishing boats leaving and entering the basin. There were incidents of boats capsizing after hitting the sandbanks at the harbour mouth.

Dredging had resumed after a boat capsized at the mouth three years ago.

A contract had been given for removing 4,80,000 cubic metre silt from the mouth and the basin.

Nearly one lakh cubic metre silt had already been dredged and dumped near the harbour.

“A major obstacle to continued dredging at the fishing harbour is the lack of adequate dumping space for keeping the silt,” said S. Sylaja, HED executive engineer. As there was delay in disposing of the silt dumped in the area, the dredging work could not be continued, she said adding that local fishermen now called for dumping of dredged silt at sea.

The large-scale dredging started when the HED was sounded that huge quantity of silt would be required for filling at the site of the proposed Indian Coast Guard Academy at Irinavu here.

That hope did not materialise because of issues relating to environmental clearance of the academy works, the HED officials said.

Their efforts to sell the silt through e-Manal system also did not succeed. The HED got government approval for e-tendering the disposal of silt in March and the work was hit by the onset of monsoon.

Matsya Thozhilali Union leader U. Pushparaj said the HED was not paying heed to the fishermen’s demand for dredging the harbour mouth.

Dredging was done only in the basin, he said adding that the fishermen’s unions now wanted the authorities to start dredging at the mouth.