5 May 2015 - VISAKHAPATNAM: Has the fishing jetty located at the far end of the Fishing Harbour in the city turned into a ship breaking yard?
The answer seems to be in the affirmative as the last jetty in the Fishing Harbour is these days filled with scrap as hectic activity of cutting through shipping vessels involving nearly 50 workers has been going on for the last couple of months.
According to sources in the fisherfolk community, nearly four vessels are in various stages of being dismantled at the fishing jetty in alleged violation of environmental norms. “Ship breaking work has been going on for nearly two months now. The vessels are being brought near the jetty and dismantled with the help of using gas cutters. The parts, which are cut, are then brought on to the jetty with the help of cranes and later transported in lorries,” said a fisherman on condition of anonymity.
“The whole jetty is now filled with scrap material and nobody is allowed to go inside. Earlier, the jetty was used by the tourism department for operating their boat. But now the tourist boat cruise service has also stopped because the boat belonging to the tourism department was badly damaged in the cyclone. Visitors are no longer allowed here,” said another fisherman Tata Rao. He expressed doubts whether the vessels were actually trawlers that had sunk during the cyclone.
Professor of environmental sciences at Andhra University, PVV Prasad Rao, said, “Whenever ship breaking is involved, there is a need for environmental clearance either from the Union ministry of environment and forests or the Central Pollution Control Board. Ships normally contain a lot of pollutants, which need to be taken into consideration during the ship breaking process so that the neighbouring areas are not polluted. Also, ship breaking activity has to be taken up in a designated area with the consent of the concerned regulatory authorities. Generally, ship breaking of cargo vessels takes place at designated ship breaking yards but that of some small vessels happens unnoticed in fishing harbours or jetties.”
However, APPCB environmental engineer Lakshmi Narayana said that as per information received by them, the vessels had sunk during cyclone Hudhud and were being taken out based on the representations submitted by fishermen’s associations to the Visakhapatnam Port as they were posing a danger to the other fishing vessels. He said there are several other trawlers, which had sunk long time back, but were left untouched as they had to receive environmental clearance because they fall under the ship breaking category.
A senior VPT official confirmed that some of the trawlers sunk during the cyclone Hudhud were posing a threat to other trawlers operating in the vicinity. “The boat owners complained that they were unable to assess the location of the sunk trawlers, which could prove dangerous for them. So the trawler owners may be involved in removing the sunk boats.”