Master plan being implemented considers only boats that are 10m or longer

The construction of a wharf at Thota Bengre, as part of the grand plans to expand the fishing harbour at Bunder, has enthused hundreds of mechanised boat owners. But numerous traditional boat owners are upset.

They feel left out of the development of the fishery harbour as “our concerns are not taken into account”. They want to be part of the Rs. 100-crore extension project with a provision for docking at the upcoming harbour, particularly at Thota Bengre.

Owners of 150 traditional boats with 2 to 10 HP outboard engines — used for fishing mostly in the shallow waters — have demanded construction of a pond near the wharf with a channel to access it so that the boats can be safely parked there.

B. Sadananda Karkera, founder of Bengre Hinniru Meenugarara Vividodhesha Sahakari Sangha at Thota Bengre, is angry that the government has not at all considered the interests of the 450 families that survive on traditional boats. True to what he says, the master plan developed by the Bangalore-based Centre Institute for Coastal Engineering for Fisheries (CICEF), takes into account boats that measure 10 m or longer. He has provided his own drawing to the authorities highlighting how construction of a couple of ponds near the wharf being built can easily solve problem.

Though on the face of it, the wharf can provide for docking of all kinds of boats, Srinivas Kharvi, a fisherman, points out the anchoring small boats close to big mechanised is nothing but inviting danger. The small movement of big boats — due to wind or water currents — will damage the small ones, particularly the fibre boats.

The fishermen fear that they may be asked to move away from wharf. “We are born and brought up here and have been using the place (where wharf is coming up) for decades. Where do we go from here?” says Dharmaraj Suvarna, another fisherman.

Though authorities point out that an area of 100m from the passenger jetty and the wharf could be used for traditional boats, Mr. Karkera says no such assurance has been given to the fishermen. He, however, maintains that when a wharf is constructed it should take into account the interests of all type of fishermen. The traditional fishermen should get their share of the development.

A. Sujan Rao, Assistant Executive Engineer, Port and Fisheries Engineering Sub-Division, Mangalore, maintains that the plans cannot be changed unless the Department of Fisheries initiates a proposal and gets the plans modified through the CICEF. Deputy Director of Fisheries M.D. Prasad says he will take it up with the Malpe-based Joint Director for Fisheries Harbour Ganapathi Bhat.

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