Rupsa: Thousands of fishermen depend on the Bahabalpur fishing jetty at the mouth of river Jalaka in Balasore district, but it has been in a bad shape for lack of maintenance and care.
No step has been taken to restore the jetty for the benefit of fishermen, a report said.
In ancient times, Odia Sadhabs (merchants) used to go abroad for maritime commerce through this river mouth.
In 1992, this jetty was constructed in Bahabalpur near the confluence of the sea and the river Budhabalanga.
Over 16,000 fisherman venture into the sea in mechanised boats and launches every day, but the river’s course at its mouth is getting silted, making the movement of fishing vessels difficult.
Various parts of the jetty have been in bad shape, fishermen alleged. At some places, concrete structures have developed cracks and may collapse any time.
The fishermen and traders’ association have been demanding restoration of the jetty, but no step is being taken in this direction.
Among other jetties, this one has been a key player for strengthening the economy of the district.
Tonnes of fish from this jetty are sent to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Goa and Delhi on a daily basis. Traders of other states also come here.
It is said that about 80 per cent of fish are exported. Now the problem is, the river mouth has been silted, as a result of which boats, launches and other fishing vessels find it difficult to move out of the river mouth into the sea.
According to marine fishery department, a total of 801 fishing vessels including 352 mechanised boats, 185 trawlers, 135 big launches and 129 country boats operate through the jetty.
Livelihood of about 16,000 fishermen is dependent on this jetty.
Fishermen had in the past apprised former Union Minister Srikant Jena, former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Damodar Rout and Pradip Maharthy of the need of restoration of the jetty and setting up of a fishing harbor.
“We had got only assurances from them, but nothing has been done so far,” lamented members of fishermen’s association.
Boat owner Prabir Sahu said, “There is lack of open space to accommodate more fishing vessels here. The river mouth is getting silted. Vessels fail to enter and go out of the river mouth. Some vessels have to anchor in the sea.”
President of the Fishermen’s and Traders’ Association Bikash Das and its secretary Gorachand Jena said, “For the last 15 years, we have been drawing the attention of the both state and the central governments for development of the jetty, but the fate of the jetty has not changed.”
BJP leader Debasish Mohapatra said there is need for permanent construction of the Haladipada-Bahabalpur road for fish transportation.”
In-charge of Fishfed, Kaliprasad Biswal, said the Fishery Engineering Division had repaired a part of the jetty in 2018-19, but the restoration and expansion work has remained stuck.
Assistant marine fishery officer Nalinikant Das said for lack of maintenance the 120-metre long jetty is on the verge of collapse.
A survey for the fishing jetty was conducted by Kerala-based central Institute of Coastal Fishery Engineering Federation in 2009-10. The plan estimate and report have been submitted and steps will be taken only after a directive from the higher-ups, he added.