Vizag fire: Govt to compensate 80 pc of fishermen’s losses, says Andhra Pradesh CM
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday announced that the government would compensate the fishermen up to 80 per cent of the losses they incurred in the fire accident here in which several boats were gutted.
As many as 36 fishing boats were completely gutted and nine partially damaged in a massive fire which erupted in the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, officials said.
Noting that the fishermen had suffered a big loss, the chief minister directed officials to dole out the relief.
He also expressed grief over the fire accident.
"Show humanity and pay compensation up to 80 per cent of the value so that the victims would be able to withstand the loss and restart fishing activity with confidence. The government should stand by the fishermen in such difficult circumstances," Reddy said in an official release.
The officials apprised the chief minister of the total loss suffered in the fire mishap.
Fisheries Minister Seediri Appalaraju along with other officials visited the accident site and assured the victims and their family members of government support.
The chief minister directed officials to carry out a thorough investigation.
Meanwhile, Visakhapatnam Harbour Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACB) B Moses Paul told PTI that the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained as the probe is still underway.
However, no death or injury was reported in the accident, officials added.
Paul said police are probing the role of a group of 10 to 15 people who allegedly partied and quarreled over a transaction in one of the boats.
Police received the names of the persons involved in the skirmish.
The blaze broke out in a jetty area in the port city around 11.30 pm on Sunday in a boat owned by Balaji on zero jetty and was doused by 4 am on Monday, officials said.
"After a boat caught fire, the group untied it and pushed it into the sea but it drifted back towards the boats and sparked a bigger fire," Paul said.
The blaze occurred in an area which is near to the Visakhapatnam Container Terminal and an Indian Oil Corporation facility where fishing boats were anchored.
Though 25 fire tenders were pressed into service from across the city over time, it was the Navy's Sahara firefighting boat which managed to extinguish the flames by spraying foam and sand, he said.
According to Paul, the fire tenders could not put off the blaze initially because almost every boat had diesel and cooking gas cylinders. Every 10 to 15 minutes, he said those cylinders exploded.
Visakhapatnam Deputy Commissioner of Police-Zone II K Ananda Reddy said the intervening night of Sunday and Monday was quite windy, causing the fire to spread quickly among the boats made of fibre (plastic) and anchored closely.
"Many of these boats also carry up to 5,000 litres of diesel as the fishermen venture into the sea for weeks. Many boats also carried LPG cylinders which the fisherfolk use for cooking," Ananda Reddy added.
Considering the critical location of the fire, he said the Vizag Steel Plant fire brigade and the Navy were also alerted, while controlling the fire without further spread proved to be a big task.
Visakhapatnam District Fire Officer S Renukayya said he received a call about the accident around 1 am, prompting him to rush firefighters and 12 fire tenders initially, including seeking help from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Visakhapatnam Port Trust.
The firefighters managed to control the fire from spreading to other boats in the vicinity within half an hour but it took almost two hours to douse it completely, the officer said.
According to estimates, each boat is valued between Rs 35 lakh and Rs 50 lakh, Ananda Reddy said. Police booked a case of accidental fire, he added. Paul said the port city has about 11 jetties, each of which could accommodate the anchorage of up to 60 fishing boats.