Mangalore , Sep 20, 2011 : P. Tamilvanan, the chairman of the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), said that no fishing boat carrying injured fishermen had arrived at the port on September 14, contradicting the statement of Vincent, the sole survivor of the ill-fated fishing boat Ocean Fisheries 2, who had said that the port had denied entry to the boat.
Expressing the port’s willingness to face inquiry in this regard, Mr. Tamilvanan told reporters that Vincent’s statement is false and unacceptable. Further explaining the issue, he said that the NMPT had anchored two boats from the outside and had no reason to deny entry or refuse to help the fishermen on board Ocean Fisheries 2 if they had requested assistance.
The Coast Guard, Fisheries, and other department officials also washed their hands off the matter as NMPT officials denied the statements of the surviving fisherman that the crew had sent distress signals to them.
Rajendra Singh Safal, the Coast Guard commandant, recalled the incident and said that the Coast Guard had received information regarding a boat in distress at 3:00 a.m. on September 15, following which he immediately arranged for an aircraft from Kochi. The search operations commenced at 5:30 a.m., which the commandant claims is the “minimum time” required to make arrangements for a rescue operation.
Mr. Tamilvanan said that, according to the Coast Guards’ statement, the boat was at least 30 nautical miles away from the port when its crew sent distress signals to the Coast Guard. He questioned how the boat could have approached the port seeking help on that day when it was several miles away from the port.
Port Security Committee Formed
The port now has a port security committee comprising the chairman of NMPT, the assistant commissioner of Mangalore, the Coast Guard commandant, the assistant commissioner of police, and the deputy director of the fisheries department, among others. This committee will meet once every three months. The first meeting was held on Monday to discuss matters related to the port’s security.
Mr. Tamilvanan said that, in future, the port will assist boats in distress without the usual procedure of seeking help from the fisheries department. He said that the fishermen will be taken care of first and that the fisheries department will be contacted later.