River a graveyard

The perilous state of the Mahanadi river mouth in Paradip has come to the fore yet again with two boats capsizing in the past four days.

By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Paradip
  • Published 11.09.18
  •  

Paradip: The perilous state of the Mahanadi river mouth in Paradip has come to the fore yet again with two boats capsizing in the past four days.

The river mouth has turned into a danger zone because of huge sand casting, leading to fishing boats capsizing at frequent intervals.

A marine fisherman has drowned and three others are reported missing in the fishing vessel capsizes near the turbulent river mouth. The operation to rescue the missing fishermen has failed to yield results so far.

"Crew members failed to negotiate the strong current near the river mouth, which resulted in the mishaps," said Paradip marine police station inspector Babita Dalei.

Accidents are a regular occurrence at the site as the boats crash against the uneven underwater surface. This year, the "dangerous" river mouth has encountered 17 boat capsizes. Eight marine fishermen have drowned, while four others are reported to be missing from January 1 to September 7.

In 2017, 17 fishermen drowned while 2016 witnessed 18 drowning cases. The marine fishermen communities and stakeholders squarely blamed the government agencies for jeopardising lives.

"The river basin has not been dredged since 2000. As a result, the underwater surface has turned hazardous for fishing vessels. The basin depth needs to be 5m deep for hassle-free movement. However, the depth has been reduced to 2m because of enormous deposit of soil and sand," said Paradip Trawler Owners' Association president Srikant Parida.

The crew members are sailing in the troubled waters, patiently waiting for the tides. In the process, they are risking their lives, he said.

"The river channel that meets with the sea from the harbour is heavily silted. This is resulting in vessels capsizing at periodic intervals," said an official of marine fisheries department.

"The dredging of the river mouth is an urgent need. Silt deposits and sand casting have affected smooth movement of fishing vessels. The vessels clash with underwater sand dunes, resulting in the mishaps. The project to dredge the river mouth will be taken up shortly," the official added.