PURI: Fisherman M Suresh has not ventured into the sea since May 1 and it is unlikely that he may do so anytime soon. He had two boats but post May 3 when the ferocious Fani struck, all that remain are broken wood planks and splinters strewn around the place where the vessels were grounded ashore.
The resident of the fishermen settlement of Penthakata on Puri sea beach is on the brink. “Fani not only damaged our house but also snatched our livelihood. My boats were not only our means of sustenance but also provided work for many others here. I have lost everything in the cyclone and do not know what to do, how to revive my life”, Suresh says.
Even as everyone’s focus is on restoration of physical infrastructure after Fani, revival of livelihood for thousands of people in the affected areas has emerged a critical factor. Coupled with homeless existence, the loss of livelihood sources is taking a heavy toll on the fishermen community in the district.
With nearly 8,000 boats damaged, the fishermen are struggling for bread and butter even after a month of the cyclone. Even those whose vessels have been spared by the cyclone are no better. They are also left with no option but to sit idle as the fish landing centres and ice factories in the district have been devastated and dysfunctional. With no electricity, the ice factories and refrigeration units are non-functional. “We can’t venture into sea for fishing in this situation. Even if we manage to catch fish they will perish if we don’t get ice to store them,” said a fisherman.
Meanwhile, Fisheries Department officials said fishermen whose boats have been registered will get financial aid for vessel repair as per relief code. Apart from fishermen, hundreds of tourist boat operators in the district have also sustained heavy loss after Fani damaged their boats.
With there is no relief provision for these boats, the Puri district administration has urged the Tourism Department to take measures to help them. “Around 1,200 tourist boats have been damaged in the cyclone. Since its a matter of livelihood for thousands of people and these boats are not covered under Relief Code, we have requested the Tourism Department to extend them financial aid and livelihood support,” said Puri Collector Balwant Singh.