The third phase of expansion of Mangalore wharf seems to have left many angry as it will badly affect boat builders and fishermen.
Expectedly, boat builders in Hoige Bazar are angry as they fear they will be displaced.
Fishermen allege that the project is being taken up as huge amounts of money could be made by people involved in the project.
Hoige Bazar, a very well planned boat building area from British era, has now become a dumping yard with the contractors dumping silt dredged from Bunder at wharf. The contract for desilting has been awarded to a Mumbai-based firm by the Fisheries Department. The residents alleged that it is being done deliberately to force them to leave the place. “They want us to vacate at the earliest and sell the land to others. They are planning an ice factory as it is demand in these days,” one resident said.
As many as 39 boat building units are facing the problem because of illegal activities going on in the name of the expansion. “I have taken around Rs 1.50 lakh loan to build my shelter here. If we live this place, how will I take care of my family. The government should give compensation or a proper job for us,” said Sathyashankar, a worried young man. Babanna, who is working in the area from 1968, said that Rs 30,000-40,000 was sufficient to set a ship sailing. “Now, we need lakhs of rupees for the same. Because of the silt, it is very difficult for smooth sailing of ships,” he said.
“Whenever a public representative visits the place, some middlemen will turn up to ‘explain’ the importance of the project. They won’t let us speak about the actual problems. They even threaten to vacate us with the help of their supporters. These middlemen have no problem here as contractors provide jetties to them,” Babanna said. “They are dumping silt here from the last six months. I fear there will be flooding in the coming monsoon. We want the problem to be solved,” he added.
The government has promised to expand wharf to the other side of the Gurupura river. Residents claim that allocated Rs 56 crore is not sufficient for completion and nearly Rs 100 crore would be required. “They say that spent Rs 8 crore on dredging, but it is of no use. Boats find it difficult to sail in the evening. Those involved in project execution are making money and the government should conduct a thorough investigation,” he demanded.
Locals alleged that fake documents have been prepared to show the area is vacant. “Some people are keen on making a few quick bucks. They don’t know the benefit of ship making which provides employment to thousands of people including carpenters and painters.
We are paying tax to port office for many years. How can they complain that we don’t have licence,” Babanna asked with a surprise.