Mangalore, Sep 15, 2011 : The Old Port estuary has been witness to at least three boat tragedies, and during the last incident this Tuesday, five people were injured.
Suresh Kumar Ullal, the deputy director of the fisheries department, says that the problem is because the Kotepura – Ullal south breakwater structure, which was raised 18 years ago, has not been maintained properly. The north breakwater structure at Thota Bengre is 200m from the south structure. The purpose of these breakwaters is to protect boats from bad weather.
Further speaking on the issue, he said that the ADB-funded project worth Rs. 200 crore to repair the breakwaters and extend them to another 300 – 400 meters should solve the problem, but this project has not yet begun.
He also said that fishing boats face this problem only in September – October because the south west winds deposit sands at the estuary. The problem ceases when the east winds, which begin at the end of October, start blowing.
Umesh Karkera, the leader of the fishermen’s community, blames it on the dams at AMR, MRPL, and Thumbe, which has reduced the flow of water into the sea, owing to which sand gets accumulated and narrows the gap for boats to venture into the sea.
Refusing to agree with this theory, Mr. Suresh Kumar says that the estuary was rougher than it is now when there were no dams. Stating that the breakwaters have solved a number of problems, he added that the present problem is because of the poor maintenance of the breakwaters.
Around 15 boats can easily pass at a time through this estuary, which is 200m in width. But in the months of September and October, only one boat can pass comfortably.
Mr. Karkera also feels that the dredging done this January was not scientific, but reliable sources say that the dredging was done under the supervision of fishermen leaders.
Besides, dredging is a very expensive process and owing a dredge is against the law. Even NMPT does not own a dredger. The port officials say that maintaining a dredger is very difficult and expensive, owing to which the port disposed the dredger it used to own 15 years back