THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The fishermen community across the district feels they have been given the least importance by the Centre and State Governments. Citing their difficulty, Moses Robert, a fisherman from Mariyanadu, said, "Due to the reduced availability of fish and change in fishing grounds after cyclone Ockhi, we need to venture into the deep sea for fishing. But the kerosene provided by the government per month is not sufficient even for a week's fishing."
Kerosene provided from the Central Government is given on subsidy. While boats with nine HP engines receive 140 litres, 25 HP engines receive 190 litres. The cost of a litre of kerosene varies from Rs 65 to Rs 70. From this, the subsidy amount of Rs 25 will be given back to the fishermen within four months. They have resorted to buying kerosene off the black market operating in the coastal regions, because of high demand.
"We want the upcoming MP to help us in this regard. We cannot afford to pay the subsidy money. The black markets can be avoided if the government takes immediate measures to allocate kerosene without subsidy at a reduced cost," said Moses.
According to social worker Magline Philomina Yohannan, there are a lot of fisherwomen in the district. "Fisherwomen are not given equal importance as fishermen. They are not eligible to receive benefits including insurance. Also, there is no facility available on the local train or buses to transport the fishes, unlike states such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu," she said.
Magline raised her concern over the priority given to the children of fishermen. She urged the union government to provide 75 per cent priority to fishermen family in coastal jobs including coastal force. "They have been born and brought up in the coastal area and there is none else who knows the geography of the coastal region," she said. "They can act immediately in case of a mishap. Thus the children of fishermen must be given importance," she opined.
According to T Peter, secretary, National Fishworkers Forum, coastal villages must come under 'Coastal wards' to highlight their issues. "We had already spoken regarding the implementation of a Ministry for Fisheries. The Modi Government promised to facilitate the same soon after Ockhi but no actions have been taken," he said.
Post the cyclone, fishermen were restricted from fishing on all days. "The government should compensate the days we do not go for fishing" says Jose Josadima from Puthiyathura.A beneficiary of the Matsyafed Net Factory in Muttathara said, "We are getting Rs 15,000 per month. We need to pay back our loans which is impossible with this amount."