The depth of harbor channel and basin needs to be kept constant for smooth passage of vessels. However, as a result of the action of water flow and waves in the channel and basin, sediments such as soil, mud and sand fall and the depth decreases. Dredging is the act of removing soil, silt, sand, etc. to maintain the depth of ship channels and bases. Mainly two types of dredging are carried out.

Mechanical dredging using machinery

Under the revised manual dredging policy, the responsibility for manual dredging has been given to the local governments in their respective port areas. Local self-government bodies carry out manual dredging using traditional dredging workers in the said area and sell the resulting sand through the website of Ports Department/Kerala Maritime Board. A share of the sale is given to the Local Self-Government, the Department of Geology and labor wages and the rest is earmarked as revenue of the Kerala Maritime Board. Due to dredging from the river, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study is being conducted by KITCO to prevent environmental damage.

Manual dredging using traditional sand workers

Mechanical dredging is resorted to in harbor areas where there is firm soil and rock and in areas where there is no human access. But manual dredging is resorted to in situations where mud and sand can be removed by human effort in the shallow areas adjacent to the river and sea. Sand suitable for the construction sector can be extracted from the material removed by manual dredging. Manual dredging was started in 2010 under the Ports Department considering that a certain income is possible through the sale of this sand and it becomes a livelihood for the traditional sand dredging workers. In the beginning, this work was carried out through registered cooperative societies using sandblasting labour. But on the basis of many complaints pointing out widespread corruption and irregularity in this work, the manual dredging policy revised in 2017 was implemented as per G. O(MS) No. 2/2017/F&PD dated 09/02/2017.

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