Muthalapozhi still a death trap; fishers cry foul over harbour

On Monday, two fishermen were killed at Muthalapozhi in Thiruvanathapuram district when their boat capsized in the high waves. This is not the first instance when fishermen had lost their lives here. For the last some years, mishaps are a common thing here and fishermen live in fear.

Despite reports of flaws in the construction of the Muthalapozhi harbour, which is said to be the main cause for the recent spate of mishaps, the authorities are blamed to have not taken any concrete steps to address the issue.

Anchuthengu native Laser Thomas and Poonthura native Rocky Benjinos lost their lives early Monday morning when their boat hit a rock and capsized. Three others who were in the boat swam to safety, according to sources. The coastal police was quoted as saying that these fishermen went out for fishing ignoring the warnings. They have reported that several boats leave the place without listening to the warnings.

part of the boat that captisized at Muthalapozhi
pic courtesy – Rajesh Shyam

Local people said that this was the same spot where accidents happen frequently and they allegedly blamed the government for not taking step to address the issue. Talking to, National Fish Workers Forum General Secretary T Peter said “All the recent issues related to Muthalapozhi are only related to unscientific construction of the harbour there. We had been demanding the government to remove the rocks that have been laid down in the depths of the harbour. These are not taken into account and these rocks pose a trouble to the fishers here.”

Stating that the government should have taken into account the safety of the fishermen who venture into sea, he said that the government should give more importance to the safety of the fishermen. With respect to the warning issued, Peter said that it was not true and alleged that they were only saying this to escape from the reality.

Valerian Issac, Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation Thiruvanathapuram District president leader and a person who has been fighting against the unscientific construction of the harbour, said that the government had not yet corrected the flaws in the construction of the harbour that has led to the frequent mishaps. “About 50 people have lost their lives in the last five years. We have told the harbour engineers that the construction was unscientific and told them that this could have negative impacts. But one has taken note of this. There are rocks under the harbour and sand is being accumulated that is always creating hurdles leading to the accident,” he said.

Issac also said that the breakwater was constructed without understanding the nature of the sea. “We had approached the government several times to find a permanent solution to the menace. But nothing concrete has happened till now,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Biju Joseph, a fisherman of Muthalapozhi also said that the waves have increased due to the unscientific harbour construction. “The only way to make the harbour safe is to dredge the sand and increase the depth. Apart from this, the rock materials should also be removed,” he said.

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