Over 6,000 fishermen families in the district will now get 25 kg rice every month at Rs 1 per kg under Rice for Olive Ridley Conservation (ROrC) scheme.
The families are affected by seven-month ban on marine fishing as an Olive Ridley protection measure every year, said Ranjit Keshari Das, Additional Director of Fishery (Marine), Kujang, on Monday.
They have been provided special eligibility cards to avail the subsidised rice. The cards entitle them to get the rice from PDS retailers of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department each month, Das added.
“Because of prohibition of fishing from November 1 to May 31 each year, the fishermen are pushed into financial crisis as they do not have alternative source of income,” Das said. Distribution of rice will begin from August 1.
On the other hand, fishermen said the subsidised rice will be of no help in solving their livelihood problems.
“I earn around `300 to `500 every day through fishing. We will get the rice cheap, but what about other essential commodities and vegetables whose prices are rising?” questioned Ranjan Mundal, a fisherman of Kharanashi village under Mahakalpada block.
The Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court had passed directions in April 2004 for protection of endangered Olive Ridleys.
Fishermen said it is not rice, but alternative employment opportunities that they seek from the Government.
Tushar Sardar, secretary of the district unit of Odisha Traditional Fish Workers Union, said though the Government is following the Committee’s direction by banning fishing for seven months during the nesting period of Olive Ridleys, it has failed to implement a clause in the Committee’s order which states that the affected fishermen should be provided with an alternative source of income during the ban period.