First phase work was scheduled to start in August

Though announced amidst much fanfare, work on the Rs.39.3-crore Vellayil fishing harbour project is yet to take off.

The facility is meant to be an addition to the Beypore and Puthiyappa harbours in the district with its close proximity to the city and is intended to revive the fortunes of the sizeable fishing community of Vellayil here. Besides, the harbour site is hardly 2 km away from the Vellayil Railway Station and is next to the main coastal road of the city.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had inaugurated the harbour’s foundation stone-laying ceremony in May. The government had promised to start the first phase of the work this month (August) and make the harbour fully functional in the next four years.

But the government is yet to complete the tender process for major components of the harbour such as breakwater, wharf, fish auction hall, dredging, and reclamation works.

“A high-level committee set up to monitor the tender process and works had convened a meeting recently. We are yet to get the minutes of the meeting. Once we get it, we will consult with private contractors and see if they agree to our terms of work,” P. Latha, Executive Engineer, Harbour Engineering Department, Kozhikode, said.

“But we hope the work to commence by mid-September. Even otherwise, the sea is rough and the conditions are not conducive to start work,” Ms. Latha said.

The harbour site is now used as a fish-landing centre. Once the harbour comes into existence, 250 medium to large fishing boats could operate and dock here. The harbour would be capable of handling 8,980 tonnes of fish. The harbour is expected to provide jobs to 2,275 local fishermen.

Initial payment

The Centre, which would bear 75 per cent of the project cost, had allowed Rs.3 crore as initial payment.

The Vellayil fishing scene had fallen into bad times from its heydays in the 1970s, when fishermen used to come from as far as Kannur district to Chavakkad in Thrissur to sell their catch. It lost out largely because the mode of fishing changed from eight-men catamarans to 40-men and engine-powered trawlers and fibre boats. “Now, this place sells hardly 100 boxes of fish,” Abdul Salaam, a fish packing worker at the Vellayil landing centre, said.

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