Mumbai (The Hindu): Pramod Madhwaraj, Minister of State for Fisheries, Sports and Youth Services, on Friday said that pending release of the balance Rs. 33 crore from the Centre for the construction of the third stage of the Mangaluru Fishing Harbour, his department would strive to make the third stage functional to the bare-minimum extent.
Speaking to presspersons after visiting the fishing harbour and interacting with stakeholders here, he said that improving the Hoige Bazar Road that connects Stage III, provision for sufficient public lighting and water facilities and a small bridge to connect old harbour and the extension could make it functional. These would meet at least half of the demands of the fishermen, he said.
He asked engineers in the department to work out an action plan to provide bare-minimum needs to provide immediate relief, Mr. Madhwaraj said. If the department has funds, it would spend it or would approach the Chief Minister for grants, he said.
According to Fisheries Department Director, the Centre has so far paid Rs. 11 crore as against the originally estimated cost of Rs. 57.6 crore of the project.
It has still to pay Rs. 33 crore under 75:25 cost sharing basis; but the National Democratic Alliance government has brought down the Centre’s share to 50 per cent.
Added to this, the cost has escalated to Rs. 82.5 crore owing to delay in the execution as some residents of Hoige Bazar had challenged the project before the National Green Tribunal. As regards the Kulai Fishing Harbour project, estimated to cost Rs. 230 crore under the present rates, Mr. Madhwaraj said here too, Centre’s present decision to share the cost at 50:50 ration had become a roadblock.
Initially, it was agreed that the Centre would bear 50 per cent of the cost, the Ministry of Shipping (New Mangalore Port Trust) 30 per cent and the State government the remaining 20 per cent. However, now the Centre has said that its share would be capped at 50 per cent. The State government was not in a position to bear the enormous amount, Mr. Madhwaraj said.
Earlier in the day, the Minister visited Bengre village and inaugurated a new passenger jetty as well as a new passenger ferry for transporting people between Bengre and the City. Later, he visited Mangaluru Fishing harbour, the ongoing III Stage work and interacted with fishermen.
Mangaluru South MLA J.R. Lobo, Deputy Commissioner K.G. Jagadeesha and Fisheries Director Veerappa Gowda were present.
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