Mangaluru, Aug 06, 2015: Fisherfolk were seen in unprecedented numbers on Aug 5, Wednesday demonstrating against the new system implemented by the State government for distribution of tax-exempt diesel.
Mangalore Trawl Boat Fishermen Association, State Purse Seine Boat Fishermen Association, Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, DK District Gill-net Fisheries Association and Dry and Raw Fish Vendors Associations, made up thousands of fishermen who out a rally from the Old Port and staged a dharna in front of the DK DC’s office, at State Bank area. The fishermen urged the government to, continue the old system of providing subsidy on diesel as the new system was not right.
Nitin Kumar, president of the District Trawl Boat Fishermen Association, said that the direct transfer of diesel subsidies to the boat owners’ bank accounts would not benefit the fishermen. He said that it was not a transparent system, unlike the distribution of diesel at fuel points. In the new system, the subsidy will also not be available for fishermen, he insisted, and urged the government to withdraw the new system.
The president also alleged that legislators, the district in-charge minister and the fisheries minister had failed to respond to the problems of the fishermen, in spite of the pleas of the members of the fishing community.
Umesh G Karkera, honorary president of the Karnataka Purse Seine Boat Fishermen Association, said that the assurance given by the state government that a 700-metre jetty would be constructed has not been fulfilled. Affluent released into the sea from industries have been polluting the water and the population of fish had reduced drastically, Karkera complained and said the government should take appropriate action against such problems.
Commenting on the new system the honorary president said the government had gone ahead with implementation of the new system for subsidy without consulting the fishermen about the pros and cons of the system. The subsidy for fishermen given by the Central government too has been discontinued. In spite of the fishing industry contributing greatly to the nation in terms of foreign exchange, the negligence by both the Central and the State governments is condemnable.
Ali Hasan, DK District Gill-net Fisheries Association president, said that the fishermen risk their lives for not just their livelihood but also for national revenue. They should, therefore, be guaranteed their rights, he demanded.
Navin Bangera, president of the DK district Purse Seine Fishermen Association, criticised Fisheries Minister K Abhayachandra Jain, questioning why the minister, who initially rejected the fisheries portfolio, was still continuing with the same. "Didn’t the minister feel embarrassed while he sought votes from fishermen?" he asked.
The Udupi MLA Pramod Madhwaraj, was criticised for turning a blind eye to the problems of the fishermen, in spite of belonging to the same community and remaining a member of the executive committee of the fishermen’s association for 12 years. Bangera warned that the protest would be intensified if the government failed to fulfill the demands of the fishermen.
District Trawl Boat Fishermen Association Honorary President Sitharam Suvarna, Karnataka Purse Seine Boat Fishermen Association President Navin Bangera and Akhila Karnataka Meenugarika Parishat Secretary Vasudev Boloor were present among thousands of fisherfolk the demonstration was a virtual sea of humanity..