DPR to be ready in a month
Kochi’s landmark Thoppumpady fishing harbour is in for a massive makeover, with the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) proposing to modernise 25 fishing harbours across India at a total cost of around ₹2,500 crore.
MPEDA Chairman K.S. Srinivas told The Hindu here on Thursday that Thoppumpady and Nizampatnam in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh would be developed into harbours of international standards in the first phase of the modernisation programme.
A detailed project report for the Thoppumpady harbour modernisation is expected to be ready in a month. The other DPRs will follow. The Union Government has given due importance to the proposal for fishing harbour modernisation, Mr. Srinivas said.
Modernising the harbours will cost approximately ₹100 crore each, he added.
A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed to develop each harbour, and the investments will pay dividend in the form of higher price for the catch, ensuring better income for fishermen. The modernisation of 25 fishing harbours in the first phase will take care of around 50% of marine wild catch in the country.
The proposal for modernisation was occasioned by the visibly poor condition of harbours across the country. “The first mile connectivity is poor,” the MPEDA chief said, adding that wild catch fetched around $3.5 a kg in India, while in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, where fishing harbour conditions were of higher standards, it was five to six dollars a kilogram.
A modernised fishing harbour will have cold storage facility, air conditioned auction hall, space for grading and sorting of fish as well as facility for basic processing. There are no fishing harbours in the country with such facilities now.
The Thoppumpady harbour is the base for around 600 gill net boats, nearly a hundred purse seine boats, over 400 fishing boats as well as a number of traditional fishing boats. The harbour is under the control of the Cochin Port Trust, and the Cochin Fisheries Harbour Coordination Committee, a forum of stakeholders, manages its day-to-day affairs.
Meanwhile, Cochin Fisheries Harbour Coordination Committee general secretary M. Majeed welcomed the move to modernise the facility. He said the 40-year-old fishing harbour badly required infrastructure facilities.
Major fishing harbours or landing centres in Kerala include Munambam, Puthiyappa, Sakthikulangara, Beypore, Azheekkal, and Thottappilli.
Capture fisheries account for almost 70% of the quantity of marine food exported from India in volume and a little over 45% in earnings. India exported 13.92 lakh tonnes of seafood during 2018-19, earning $6.73 billion.