Cochin Port Trust has warned that ferry services in Kochi, especially in port waters, could be disrupted as the majority of boats and vessels, including the junkar between Fort Kochi and Vypeen, have not renewed their licences.

According to sources, the failure of the vessels to renew their licences under the Kerala Inland Vessel Rules 2010, which came into effect on April 30, 2010, will mean that less than 10 of the total 330 vessels will be allowed to ply on port waters.

However, the State Port Department denied there would be any disruption in services as boats and other vessels were in the process of renewing their annual licences.

Director of ports Jacob Thomas said as per rules, boats and vessels using the port waters were expected to renew their licences annually and the process was on. Therefore, he said, there was no need to fear a disruption in water transport services.

He said the rules for examination of the fitness of vessels and their registration came into effect after the Thattekkad boat tragedy in February 2007. Under the new rules vessels are expected to renew their licences annually. The process was on, said Dr. Thomas, as he also denied there was shortage of surveyors for the vessels.

However, in a letter written to the state port authority early this year, the Port Trust is learnt to have warned of a shortage of surveyors with the registration authority.

The letter had also pointed out that certification of fitness was necessary to avoid and survive incidents like the one in which a passenger ferry belonging to Kerala State Water Transport Department brush against INS Viraat late last year. The boat had a narrow escape.

The port’s letter said the incidents like the one involving INS Viraat pointed to the necessity for a system of issuing certificates of registry on an annual basis. The certification ensures checks on the availability of life-saving devices, fire-fighting equipment and other structural requirements, including whether a boat is capable of carrying passengers on its deck.

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