On Monday, two days before Cyclone Nivar is expected to make landfall in Tamil Nadu, motorized boat owners in Kasimedu in the state docked their boats in a hurry. Though they did so on the shore, 50 metres away from the sea, they worry about the damage that can be inflicted on them by the strong winds, rain and thunderstorms that are predicted over the next 48 hours. The owners fear that this cyclone may be similar to previous ones, wherein lack of shelter resulted in severe damage to boats, motors and nets.
Cyclone Nivar has intensified from a deep depression into a cyclonic storm as of Monday morning, and is expected to make landfall on November 25, between Mahabalipuram and Karaikal. As a result, fishermen have been advised to stay on the shores till November 26. The winds are predicted to blow at a speed of 100-120 km at most places of the state, which can cause severe damages to metal roofs and thatched huts, as per Indian Meteorological Department.
In this backdrop, the fishermen fret over damage to their boats, in a year when they have already lost several work days due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Sathish, a fisherman of Kasimedu, said, “A few mechanized boats that ventured into sea for long journeys are yet to return to the coast. The fishermen at sea are receiving updates about the cyclone from the government and the state has told them to stay in the nearest coast till Cyclone Nivar makes a landfall. Most of them have reached the coast but a few boats are coming to the coasts.” A complete picture on the status of the mechanised boats will be known only on Wednesday, he added.
The fishermen at the shore have docked their boats, but fear damage that can be caused due to the wind. “There are chances of water entering the boats in Indira Nagar of Kasimedu and causing damages to the boat. The sea has high tides but the winds are also strong at the same time. So the boats can collide and get damaged,” Sathish said. “Till now, the officials have not visited the place so they do not know the real picture but only a shelter for the boats can save the boats from damage. There is no alternate place for keeping the boats during the cyclone,” he added.
The South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association K Bharathi, reiterating the same, said that fishermen fear damage to boats due to lack of shelter at Kasimedu, Pattinapakkam and coastal areas. “There is no technology for us to move and dock the boats at a further distance. However, a shelter will help us. We have already placed this demand to the government but the arrangements are yet to be done,” he said.
K Bharathi also said that only boats, but motors and fishing nets can also incur damage during the cyclone. “Even last time, Cyclone Vardha caused severe damages to the motors. The sand filled the motors and buried the nets. Following this we had to spend huge amounts to repair them. We are afraid this will repeat this year too.”