Muthalapozhi fisher deaths: Minorities Commission criticises Kerala govt over laxity

The Commission said the government departments had failed to implement the provisions of the MoU signed by the government with Adani Ports in 2018.
Muthalapozhi fisher deaths: Minorities Commission criticises Kerala govt over laxity
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The Kerala State Commission for Minorities on Saturday, July 6, criticised the state government for its laxity in addressing the accidents and deaths at the Muthalapozhi harbour in Thiruvananthapuram. The Commission, which has taken up a suo motu case, said that the government departments failed to implement the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the government with Adani Ports in 2018. The MoU aimed to deepen the mouth of Muthalapozhi harbour to resolve the recurring accidents at the harbour.

In the past ten years, 73 fishermen have lost their lives, and around 700 boats have capsized in the region. More than 700 people were injured, some of them seriously, in those accidents. The accidents that occur while crossing the estuary are a risky roulette wheel because of the fierce waves. An earlier study had blamed it on unscientific breakwater construction. So dangerous is the spot that fishers have nicknamed it ‘Maranapozhi’ (Death Estuary).

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The Adani ports mostly depend on the Muthalapozhi harbour for supplying the materials required to construct the Vizhinjam International Seaport, located around 40 kms away by road. As part of this, Adani Ports has reportedly renewed the MoU twice. The Commission pointed out that to this date, the government departments have been unable to agree and evaluate whether the terms of the MoU are being followed or include additional conditions. 

During the special sitting held in the Commission's headquarters, the Commission pointed out the lack of coordination in the different government departments. The sitting was held as part of the evidence collection in a suo motu case registered by the Commission following the recurrent accidents in the harbour. Officials from different departments, including the Fisheries and Port, the Harbour Engineering, the Coastal Police, the District Collector, and Adani Ports, were present at the sitting. The commission also asked the authorities to submit a detailed report on July 20. 

In June, the opposition in the Assembly raised concerns regarding the accidents and deaths of fishermen in Muthalapozhi. They alleged that the government had failed to address the accumulation of sand and rock at the harbour entrance and channel. Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan asked the government why the Adani Group was given repeated extensions for dredging. He argued that the government should take over the dredging and have the Adani group pay the expenses.

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