Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: The Valiathura Thuramukha Samrakshana Vikasana Samithi has accused the Government of trying to scuttle the proposal to construct a mini-fishing harbour at Valiathura.

Addressing a press conference, Samithi leaders Xavier D'Cruz , Gireesan and Melvin Vinod said the Government's plan to set up a Maritime Institute at Valiathura would effectively torpedo the fishing harbour project.

Mr. D'Cruz said the harbour would have benefited hundreds of fishermen who now set out to sea from the dilapidated Valiathura pier. It would have also helped decongest the crowded Vizhinjam harbour, he said.

"In 2003, the Government agreed to carry out a feasibility study for a mini-fishing harbour at Valiathura. But in 2005, the then Minister for Cooperation and Ports M.V. Raghavan came up with an alternative proposal to set up a maritime academy on the 1.9 acres of land identified for the harbour project. The Government decided to go ahead with the proposal even after the Director General of Shipping rejected the application for want of adequate land," Mr. Vinod said. The Samithi alleged that the present Government was trying to appropriate prime coastal land for the maritime academy. "For well over a century, thousands of people from Veli to Poonthura have been using the beach for various purposes. The Government is now trying to take over this land and deprive them of access to fish landing grounds," Mr. Gireesan said.The Samithi observed that the proximity of the international airport, national highway bypass and railway station and the natural depth of the coastal waters made Valiathura the ideal choice for the construction of a harbour.