The present status of wooden catamarans of the Indian Coast
K S Rao
Catamarans (a.k.a. kattumarams) are the most widely used fishing craft in India, and hundreds of thousands of poor, traditional fishermen depend on these vessels for their livelihood that are almost made entirely of wood. In recent years, acute shortages and phenomenal increases in prices of timber species used in catamaran fabrication have been reported, causing great hardship to the user community. Further, the patterns of usage are based on age-old practices and not on scientific lines, resulting in significant waste of timber during fabrication and use. This paper, while highlighting the importance and benefit of usage of catamarans in the Indian context, stresses the need for introduction of steps to ameliorate the current losses, and outlines the various research and development efforts undertaken in this direction. Of special importance in this context is the on-going World Bank-aided program on catamarans, being handled at the Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore.