THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Central Government may backtrack on the draft Marine Fishing Policy, considering the upcoming state elections in the coastal states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and West Bengal.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has promised that the government would reconsider the draft and include the concerns raised by fishermen, says T Peter, secretary of National Fishworkers Federation (NFF). He was part of the delegation that met the minister.
Peter says that the government cannot ignore the concerns of fishermen when the elections are round the corner. Elections in five states - Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry - will be held between April 4 and May 16.
A detailed discussion with the minister and higher officials will be held to sort out the issues. If the fishermen manage to change the policy it will be the third such victory after successfully thwarting the Meenakumari Committee report on deep sea fishing and the Syda Rao Committee report on uniform trawling ban season submitted during the BJP government.
The change in government attitude has surprised even the fisherfolk. “In usual situations it would be tough to get a favourable response from the government. But our protest in New Delhi on March 10, in which 800 strong protesters from all coastal states took part, managed to get the attention of the government,” says Peter.
According to him the highest participation came from the BJP-ruled Gujarat and Maharashtra. The Central Government has constituted a seven-member expert committee, headed by Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, S Ayappan, to revise the existing policy of 2004.
The drafting process has been criticised by various fishermen organisations for excluding people who are directly affected by the policy.
The fishermen have even forced the state government to inform the Centre that it would take a stand after consulting the stakeholders.
Fishermen organisations have put the BJP in the dock stating that the government should follow the draft prepared by the party in 2012. “The BJP national policy on fishing and fishermen presented by Nitin Gadkari at the time of the UPA government should be the base document for the expert committee,” says Peter.
The other demands of NFF include bifurcating the Union Agriculture Ministry to create a separate ministry for fisheries and fishermen welfare. It also wants that the fisher communities living in India be enlisted as Scheduled Tribe, as recommended by the Mandal Commission.
- Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has promised that the government would reconsider the draft and include the concerns raised by fishermen, says T Peter, NFF secretary
- A detailed discussion with the minister and higher officials will be held to sort out the issues
- The drafting process has been criticised by various fishermen organisations for excluding people who are directly affected by the policy