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Ponnani harbour underused

Abdul Latheef Naha
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Hardly 25 per cent of the boats are using it for berthing

underemployed:Fish being loaded onto refrigerated trucks at the Ponnani harbour in Malappuram.
underemployed:Fish being loaded onto refrigerated trucks at the Ponnani harbour in Malappuram.

The fishing harbour at Ponnani is yet to become completely functional even after 18 months since its inauguration. A visit to the harbour the other day revealed that hardly 25 per cent of the boats were using the harbour for berthing.

A large number of boats were seen berthing at a nearby inlet close to a row of temporary sheds where fish is unloaded and kept. People alleged that those maintaining the temporary thatched-roofed sheds were goading the fishermen not to use the harbour.

“If all the fishing boats berth at the harbour, the lobby maintaining the sheds illegally will lose their revenue,” said Kunhi Mammu Paravath, assistant executive engineer, Harbour Engineering Department, Ponnani.

Mr. Paravath said that the number of boats using the harbour was increasing slowly. “This kind of resistance has been common in all harbours. It will change gradually,” he said.

Toll

The Harbour Engineering Department is set to implement toll at the harbour. Toll will be levied not only from boats berthing at the harbour but also from vehicles carrying fish from there. “We will be levying government approved rates,” Mr. Paravath said.

With the implementation of the toll, all boats are expected to land at the harbour. Toll is expected to be levied from the boats landing near the sheds also. When toll is imposed on all boats coming to Ponnani, then the boats will have no option but to use the harbour facilities. Apart from the boats from Ponnani, a large number of fishing vessels from neighbouring regions such as Veliyamkode, Tirur and Tanur are depending on Ponnani harbour.

The nearest fishing harbour is Beypore on the northern side and Munambam on the southern side. Work on a fishing harbour at Chettuva is on. With the largest number of inboard fishing vessels operating at Tanur, the demand for a fishing harbour at Tanur has increased.

It was on February 11, 2011, the then Fisheries Minister S. Sarma inaugurated the fishing harbour at Ponnani. As many as 6,500 fishermen were expected to benefit by the harbour directly and 25,000 others indirectly.

It took more than 10 years to complete the construction of the harbour, work on which began in April, 2000. The harbour was constructed by reclaiming 18 hectares from the estuary where the Bharatapuzha falls into the Arabian Sea.

Breakwater

The breakwater or pulimuttu walls constructed at Ponnani have proven effective in calming the waters at the harbour, which has a 234-metre-long jetty. The breakwater is 780-m long on one side, and 570 m on the other side. Mr. Paravath said that the problem of siltation had reduced considerably in Ponnani estuary after the construction of the breakwater walls. The estuary has a fairly deep channel, which is 270m wide. The total wall-to-wall width of the channel inside the breakwater is 60m. The channel at Ponnani harbour has an average depth of 5-6 metre.

“Any type of fishing vessel can enter the harbour any time of the year with the available depth of five to six metres,” said Mr. Paravath.

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