Vizhinjam work will begin only after mandatory clearances are given: Babu
Minister for Ports K. Babu, on Tuesday, inaugurated a project of the Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation to install artificial reefs, by lowering the first unit of the reef into the sea. The unit was deposited 20 metres deep into the sea off the coast near Puthiyathura, four km from the coast. The project aims at enhancing fish production, thus providing livelihood support to fishermen.
The vessel carrying the Minister had to hover around the spot for almost an hour before the reef units, made of reinforced cement concrete (RCC), could be lowered. The procedure was completed using a nylon rope that was tied to another vessel.
The remaining 59 units of the reef will be lowered in the same spot in the coming days with the help of GPS and local fishermen.
Another 60 units will be lowered in the same area soon. Off the coast at Karimkulam and Poovar fishing villages, 120 units each will be deposited. In all, 360 units will be deposited in these three locations.
Dwindling fish resource
Mr. Babu said the Rs.57-lakh project had been launched as the fish resource of coastal waters was declining by the day due to exploitation by mechanised vessels. Fish resource would be enhanced considerably once the artificial reef was deposited. Fishermen would benefit from this, he added.
As the artificial reefs were established close to the shore, traditional fisherman would be able to move to the fishing ground in kattamaram.
“This will reduce the fuel cost, thus increasing profitability in fishing,” Managing Director of the Corporation K. Ampady said.
The artificial reefs will emerge as a favourable habitat for periphyton, a colony of microscopic planktonic organisms that are the prime food for omnivorous and herbivorous fishes. Project Manager of KSCADC Ignatius Mandro B. said they were expecting sting ray, electric ray, lobsters, carangids, scad, and scud to reach the reef to feed on the small fishes.
Gradually, the reef area will be developed into a feeding and breeding ground for various kinds of fishes.
Earlier, addressing mediapersons, Mr. Babu said that the government would give permission to commence work on the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vizhinjam only after all the mandatory clearances were received.
He said the ICTT was yet to get environmental clearance although Welspun had been granted security clearance by the Union government.
The pre-monsoon and post-monsoon studies as part of environmental clearance were on, he said.
The Minister said the Cabinet was yet to decide on whether to accept the bid of Welspun or to undertake negotiation as it had demanded a grant of Rs.489 crore for 16 years.
A sub-committee, comprising secretaries of Port, Finance, and Law and Managing Director of Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL), a fully owned company of the State government, would go into the issue and bring it to the Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary. He said the Cabinet would later decide on the report.
Mr. Babu said the previous LDF government had kicked off the project without getting environment clearance for the ICTT. A Rs.6-crore project had been submitted to the Union government for the development of the Vizhinjam fishing harbour.