Work on reconstruction of the broken, cracked, 495-metre long wharf at Kasimedu fishing harbour, is progressing well.
Other ongoing projects at the harbour, including the construction of a new auction hall, sanitary complex and relaying of a road, all at a cost of Rs. 16.24 crore are also proceeding at full-swing.
The Kasimedu fishing harbour handles around 25,000 tonnes of fish per annum. But fisherfolk are forced to land their fish on a wharf that has gaping holes, cracks and iron rods jutting out of it. The wharf, inaugurated in 1984, was designed to handle 560 mechanised boats and 15 trawlers, but actually serves around 1,000 trawlers and mechanised boats.
Fishermen said they have no space to dispose of garbage, repair their nets or unload their fish.
Under the first phase, work on 25 metres of the wharf is nearing completion and will soon be handed over to the fisherfolk for use.
According to sources in the Fisheries Department, the wharf work is being carried out in stages as, if it is done at one go, there would be no space for boats to be parked.
“Since the wharf juts out on the water, suspension centring, a novel method, is being adopted for its rehabilitation. The weight is being borne by rods on top. Experts from IIT-Madras will test the strength of each pile before work is taken up on them,” the official said.
The official said the work is part of the State government’s policy to upgrade fisheries infrastructure across the coastline. Fishing harbours in Cuddalore, Parangipettai, Pazhayar, Nagore and Nagapattinam are also being upgraded, he added.
Nanjil Ravi, a fisherman with Akila India Meenavar Sangam, said it was high time that repairs were taken up on the wharf. “A boat owner and a few labourers had fallen into the holes and died. But they have not been given any compensation as the incidents happened inside the harbour, which is under the control of the port. “We want dredging to be carried out beneath the wharf too,” he said.
Though the Chennai Port Trust controls the fishing harbour, the work has been taken up by the Fisheries Department.
This is the first step in the department’s taking over control of the harbour. Fisherfolk have been for long demanding that the department take control of the running of the facility. “There are a lot of issues involved in running the harbour. Everywhere else in the State, fishing harbours and landing centres are under the department’s purview,” said K. Bharathi of Then India Meenava Peravai.