Distress alert device a must on boats: Bengal government
The Bengal government has made it mandatory for boats and trawlers out for deep-sea fishing to install distress alert transmitters (DATs) so that the vessel operators can alert Chennai’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in case of an emergency.
The state government had issued a similar order in 2011 and provided the device to around 2,400 fishing boats. But the increasing trend of fishing boat capsizing in the Bay of Bengal prompted the state government to make mandatory the installation of the device in boats at the earliest.
There are around 10,000 boats registered in South 24-Parganas district.
Sources in the Indian Coast Guard said that the DAT was a satellite-based alert transmitter to be used in distress situations like capsize, fire, medical emergency and drowning.
In case of emergency, the fishing boat transmits a short message about its location and type of emergency to the MRCC, which in turn alerts the Coast Guard personnel.
The decision for mandatory installation of all registered boats was adopted during a meeting between the fisheries department and members of the Fishermen Welfare Association at the South 24-Parganas district magistrate’s office in Alipore on Wednesday.
State fisheries minister Akhil Giri and officials of the Coast Guard and the disaster management department attended the meeting. that was held on a day a boat capsized on the Bay of Bengal close to the Bangladesh border.
Sources in the fisheries department said a boat named ‘Tarama’ from Kakdwip sank in the sea owing to a breach on its floor. All the 15 fishermen on the boat were rescued by boats sailing nearby.
Earlier on July 14, in a similar boat capsize around 25km away from the Frazerganj coastal line, 14 fishermen who were trapped inside the bottom cabin died.
Speaking to The Telegraph, state fisheries minister Akhil Giri said: “We do not want such accidents any more. The decision for mandatory installation of the DAT system is a step to prevent such accidents.”
At the meeting, it was decided that the state government would soon select a modern DAT device and advise boat owners to install it in their vessels at their own cost.
“We will select the appropriate device and ask boat owners to install it. We are hopeful that a boat owner who spends over Rs 50 lakh on a fishing boat can afford to install a device that costs around Rs 15,000 for safety,” minister Giri told The Telegraph. He added that he would soon hold a meeting with fisheries department official to frame a timeline to implement it.
Bijan Maity, joint secretary of West Bengal United Fishermen’s Association said: “It is a good initiative. This decision was earlier taken but a casual approach in its implementation left the situation unchanged. We have appealed to the minister to ensure that the decision does not remain only on paper.”