In a major boon to Lakshadweep islanders, the Government of India has declared 10 islands in the Union Territory ‘fishermen villages’.
The tag accorded to these islands comes at a time when Lakshadweep is losing most of the benefits offered by the Central Government for fishermen despite its inhabitants depending primarily on fishing as an occupation.
In a letter issued by Joint Secretary Raja Sekhar Vundru of the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries on February 7, 10 islands have been considered fishermen villages as per the Marine Fisheries Census 2010 (Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands).
Agatti, Amini, Androth, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kittan and Minicoy are now fishermen villages.
As per the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for fishermen’s villages, active fishermen will have access to group accident insurance, model fishermen villages will be developed and the fishermen will be given saving-cum-relief.
Houses worth `75,000 will be constructed for the fishermen, as per the 12th Five Year Plan.
Multipurpose community halls will also be constructed. An integrated drinking water scheme will be included under the list of benefits for the islanders. As per the saving-cum-relief scheme, if a fisherman deposits `100 in a bank, the government will pitch in `300.
According to NCP national secretary Jimmy George who briefed the media here on Saturday, Lakshadweep islanders had been not able to avail of many benefits under the national scheme of welfare of fishermen.
“Crores of money is set aside by the Central Government for the benefit of fisherfolk every year. However, since the Lakshadweep islands were yet to be declared ‘fishermen villages’, the islanders never received the benefits,” he said.
As per the list under the Marine Fisheries Census 2010, 5,338 fishermen families live in Lakshadweep. Of this, 1,872 are BPL families. Nearly 12 per cent of the fishermen community live in ‘kutcha’ houses. P P Muhammed Faisal, NCP candidate for the Lok Sabha polls from Lakshadweep, said when Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Tariq Anwar visited Lakshadweep on December 27, he had declared five islands to be fishermen villages. “After much persuasion, it was decided to give the ‘fishermen village’ tag to 10 islands based on the commonality of geographical and livelihood factors,” Faisal said.