When fibreglass boats are donated liberally

REFURBISHED: A view of the reconstructed fishing harbour at Akkaraipettai in Nagapattinam.

REFURBISHED: A view of the reconstructed fishing harbour at Akkaraipettai in Nagapattinam.   | Photo Credit: Photo: K. Subramanian

Fishermen families in the entire 188-km stretch coastline of Nagapattinam district are now happy as a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have provided them with excess number of fibreglass boats in the last two years after the tsunami disaster.

Almost all the fishermen families affected by the tsunami have received free fibreglass boats donated by the NGOs. In some coastal villages, including Serudur, Pazhayar and Nagore, a number of fishermen families have received two fibreglass boats, thanks to the liberal donation of boats by the NGOs.

A senior official of the Fisheries Department said that there were only 3,230 `vallams' (fibreglass boats) in the entire Nagapattinam district before the tsunami but as many as 5,200 fibreglass boats are now venturing into the sea. The NGOs, voluntary and service organisations, including Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, Mata Amritanandamayi Math, Development Promotion Group, People's Development Association, SOS Children's of India, TIFAC wing of the SASTRA University have donated more than 2,500 fibreglass boats with engines and nets costing Rs.1.50 lakh each. Fishermen have started fishing activity in full swing and venturing into the sea as usual even during the lean season period of November and December.

The Nagapattinam fishing harbour at Akkaraipettai and Keechankuppam that was destroyed by the tsunami has regained its past glory with the reconstruction of the harbour by the Government at a cost of Rs.2 crore.

Besides, a new modern fish auction hall was also built by an NGO at a cost of Rs.50 lakh. A number of fishermen who were using catamarans before the tsunami have now switched over to fibreglass boats.

There were 7,386 catamarans and 948 mechanised boats before the tsunami, and the number came down to 6,467 and 664 after the disaster. Commercial banks have advanced loans to the tune of Rs.39 crore to fishermen with Rs.15 crore subsidy for repairing the damaged boats and for purchasing new boats under the Rajiv Gandhi Tsunami Rehabilitation Project.

A number of fishermen had purchased mechanised boats made of steel at a cost of Rs.20 lakh each.

According to a cross-section of fishermen in Pazhayar, Nagapattinam, Velankanni, Vedaranyam coastal areas, they are able to go a maximum distance in the fibreglass boats and getting a good a catch of not less then 250 kg fish per boat.

However, mechanised boats and trawlers are able to catch more fish depending on the season.

Tenkasi S. Jawahar, Nagapattinam Collector, is conducting exclusive meeting of fishermen every month to hear their grievances and taking steps to solve their problems relating to the free movement of boats from the estuary to the sea.

The Collector said that the Nagapattinam port that was ruined by the tsunami was being reconstructed at a cost of Rs.43.52 crore with Asian Development Bank assistance.

He said that the first phase of work was being carried out at a cost of Rs.10 crore.

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