Boat building hit in Kakinada

Boat building hit in Kakinada
Highlights

Many people do know that Kakinada in East Godavari district is famous for the age-old delicious sweet ‘Kakinada kaja’.  The good news is that the syrupy sweet has never lost its preeminent position. For years, Kakinada has also been famous for building wooden boats which are used widely for fishing. The bad news is that boat building is no longer thriving.

Kakinada: Many people do know that Kakinada in East Godavari district is famous for the age-old delicious sweet ‘Kakinada kaja’. The good news is that the syrupy sweet has never lost its preeminent position. For years, Kakinada has also been famous for building wooden boats which are used widely for fishing. The bad news is that boat building is no longer thriving.

The Kakinada harbour is an important in the eastern part of Andhra Pradesh. The wooden boats made here for fishing are known for their longevity and durability. However, of late the descendants of some of the traditional artisans, whose forbears had spent their entire lives building boats, are switching to other professions, mainly because of lack of new boat-building orders. The numbers of those who are making new boats against odds have fallen. The artisans who do not want to shift to other professions are now engaged in repairs of old wooden boats.

The boat building units are centralized in Jagannnadha Puram in Kakinada, Uppada, Etimoga and Tallarevu. There are nearly 500 artisans who depend on this work, but few of them have productive work on a regular basis, according to observers.

Seru Babulu, a boat builder from Jagannadha Puram, told The Hans India that Kakinada had carved a niche for itself in wooden boat making. He says he himself has been involved in boat building from the time he was 12 years of age.

Now he is 47 years. Babulu says in despair that the scope for making new boats has reduced considerably because of rising costs of making traditional boats and the trend of replacing wooden boats with fibre ones.

Babulu points out that it takes at least three months’ time and an investment of at least Rs 30 lakh to make a new boat using Babul tree wood. If anybody wants to build their boat with teakwood, the cost would double. Unable to bear such high costs, most of the fishermen are not ordering for new boats. They simply repair their old ones. This prompts the carpenters who know the nitty-gritty of boat making to choose other works.

“The younger generation is not willing to take up this work and are opting for new jobs,” Babulu observes. He says that they have an association and a co-operative society, but due to lack of support from the government, most of the carpenters’ families are leading miserable lives. At one time, we had plenty of work, even to make 30 boats a year, but now we are hardly making 10 boats a year, says Babulu.

In good old days, fishing at Kakinada was thriving, but due to the advent of industries along the coastal belt, the availability of fish in the shallow waters along the district's coastline has come down. This has deeply impacted the fishermen community as well as boat builders.

By Srikanth Peri

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