Waste in backwaters

Complaints of ship waste being dumped into the Kochi backwaters are growing louder and more frequent. Local contractors collect the waste, mainly plastic and cloth, from ships and after sorting them, dump the unwanted items straight into the sea.

There have been many reports of late of the propellers of passenger boats getting entangled in this ship waste. The practice has raised environmental concerns as well and has also affected the livelihood of fishermen.

“Instances of boat propellers being caught in the plastic and cloth waste are frequent, particularly after the big ships have come and gone. On an average, we encounter the problem four or five times a month. We often recover medical waste, cloth and plastic equipment,” said a source in the State Water Transport Department (SWTD).

Shipping agents, who help luxury cruise ships get the necessary clearance and documentation, auction the right to buy the ship’s waste by local contractors based in Fort Kochi.

Noted environmentalist Prof M.K. Prasad has called for the Port Trust authorities to intervene. “They should ensure that

safe disposal of the waste be a pre-condition in such auctions. Otherwise, it will raise serious environmental concerns and affect the livelihood of fishermen,” he said.

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