Mangaluru, Feb 8, 2015: At the historic Old Port or Bundar here more than 1,000 boats and over 60 cargo vessels negotiate confluence of sea and rivers day and night. Small boats and trawlers bring the fish they catch in the deep sea, large supply vessels transport food, essentials , cement, building materials, to people in Lakshadweep (islands).
Almost all the boats/vessels depend on a century plus old characteristic lighthouse located at Hoigebazaar, which served in guiding the boats/vessels to enter the port from the Arabian Sea.
Sadly, the lighthouse, established in 1862 and located next to Karnataka Fisheries Development Corporation Limited, has stopped functioning for the last about two years. The port officials seem to be least bothered at the woes of the fishermen.
Along with the lighthouse, the weather mast (which gives signals/warning to fishermen in boats in case of storms/cyclones) too has stopped functioning.
Creepers have covered the lighthouse and the weather mast. It may not be surprising if both of these ’vanish’ in the not-so-distant future.
In addition, there is a signal tower with VHF facility. But due to lack of manpower, the facility is defunct leaving boatmen to the mercy of the Gods.
All essential facilities have come to a standstill. But the department concerned continues to collect ’light dues,’ based on the tonnage of the ships/vessels, complain the users of the port.
Cargo vessel ’Vijayalakshmi’ hit a wreckage while returning from Lakshadweep a month ago, incurring a loss of more than Rs 1.5 crore.
"The incident occurred partly because of the lack of markers and due to non-functioning of the old lighthouse at Hoigebazaar," said Abdul Latheef, secretary of the Old Mangalore Port Users’ Association. More such incidents have been occurring and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears, he laments.
When contacted, port conservator Madhusudan said that plans were in the pipe line to hand over the lighthouse at Hoigebazaar to the department concerned in the Central government, like in the case of the ones at Surathkal, Kaup and Kundapur.
Citing lack of AGA gas cylinders to operate the flashing light of the lighthouse, the person in charge of the facility has been shifted to the administrative department, the port conservator said.