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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 22:

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged the Centre for dredging of Mahanadi River mouth at Paradip port.

In a letter to Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari, Patnaik urged him to direct Paradip Port authorities for dredging of Mahanadi River mouth and navigational channel for Paradip fishing harbour.

Describing Paradip fishing harbour a major fish landing centre on the east coast, Patnaik said that the port authorities had carried out the dredging of the navigational channel during 1997-98. However, the maintenance dredging has not been carried out since then.

“Paradip Fishing Harbour is a major Fish Landing Centre on the east coast, where 640 mechanised fishing vessels and 100 FRP boats operate. About 30,000 people are engaged directly and indirectly there. The Harbour was developed under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Ministry of Agriculture, which was completed during 1996. Before the year 2011, the management and maintenance of Fishing Harbour was being done by Paradip Port Trust. The Port authorities had taken up dredging of the navigational channel during 1997-98 but since then no maintenance dredging has been carried out”, CM wrote.

Expressing his concern over increasing trend of accidents, he appealed to Gadkari on ensuring safety of fishing harbour at the port in Odisha.

“The depth available at the river mouth is less than 1 metre though the fishing vessels require a minimum depth of 4 metres for smooth and safe navigation. The fishermen have been demanding for dredging of the river mouth for reduction of accidents and casualties, which are showing an increasing trend”, the letter said.

The Bengaluru-based Central Institute of Coastal Engineering for Fishery in its report said that the siltation at Mahanadi River mouth has been aggravated due to beach nourishment work taken up by the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) for protection of sea wall and no remedial measures have been taken to arrest the movement of sand towards the river mouth and navigational channel, Patnaik said.

He urged the Union Minister to issue appropriate instructions to the PPT authorities to take up dredging of the river mouth and the navigational channel urgently for smooth and safe navigation of the fishing vessels.