Harbours tense as fishworkers try to escape from creditors
By Nidheesh J Villatt | ENS | Published: 07th October 2013 10:37 AM |
The growing conflict between traditional fishworkers and their creditor/ buyers known as ‘Tharakanmar’, has given rise to a potential law and order situation in several fishing harbours in the Ernakulam district.
The recent decision of these creditors, who also act as wholesale buyers of fish, to arbitrarily increase the amount collected in the name of the ‘Lelappanku’ has caused considerable tension in the coastal belt. This forced the District Collector to constitute a committee to study the different dimensions of the case.
According to the TUCI state president Charles George, the ‘Lelappanku’ was only 7 per cent of the total cost of the fish sold by the workers in the beginning. Two months ago the merchants increased it to 10 per cent. It was further increased to 13 per cent later. On September 25, the merchants demanded that it should be further increased to 20 per cent. This was vehemently opposed by the fish workers, he said.
The conflict reached a new stage when the merchants and their aides blocked the independent fish auction initiated by the workers. “Fishworkers are being exploited. They receive only a negligible amount for their catch. The last LDF government decided to address this injustice by strengthening the cooperative sector. But because of the conservative fiscal policies of the UDF government, the cooperative sector in fisheries got brutally neglected,” says former fisheries minister and CPM leader S Sharma MLA. According to Sharma, the indebtedness among fish workers is increasing. “The authorities should make sure that they are not exploited further,” he said. The district collector P I Sheik Pareeth said that the district administration will try to solve the issue in an amicable manner.
“We have formed a panel which will study the case. The committee will submit the report within a month. The final decision will be based on its findings.