VIJAYAWADA: With both Union and state governments focussing on the development of coastline in the state as a hub of trade and commercial activity, fishermen in 583 hamlets along the 974-km coast, second largest in the country, are expressing concern over their livelihood.
“Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, since the formation of his government, has been speaking about coast-based development and turning Andhra Pradesh into a logistical hub, but he has never uttered a word about the future of fishermen and their villages dotting the long coast. There has been no assurance of any kind from him or his government till date,” said Chinna Chittibabu, state executive member of Matsya Kara Sankshema Samithi (Fishermen Welfare Federation).
He said fishermen are not against development and, in fact, they welcome it, but at the same time they want the government not to disturb their hamlets and impede their occupation.
“There has been no discussion on the alternative economic activity. The government even wants to give inland waterways transportation to some big companies. Though we are fishermen, our forefathers had also worked as boatmen on Buckingham Canal, the important inland waterway in the British era, which is all set to be revived now. We want the government to allocate operation of boats and other vessels on the inland waterways to fishermen societies, so it will be an additional economic generation avenue,” Chittibabu added.
M Srinivasa Arjun Kumar, president of the federation, said more than 80 per cent of fishermen hamlets in the state are bereft of good roads and drinking water facilities.
“Recently, marking our 10th anniversary, we had taken up a tour of all fishermen villages in the state and had even submitted reports to respective district collectors for forwarding them to the government,” he said.
Arjun Kumar, who chaired the federation committee meeting to discuss the arrangements for the ‘Matsya Kara Maha Garjana’ in Vijayawada on April 18, to discuss their problems and put forth their demands before Union and state ministers expected to attend the meeting, said the long-standing demand for inclusion of 19 sub-castes of fishermen community in the Scheduled Tribes list, provision of subsidy on engine oil for all fibre boats, continuation of the policy of increasing tax on tanks by 10 per cent every five years and other related issues too will be discussed at the meeting.
With around 30,000 fishermen expected to participate in the meeting, the federation had organised 300 vehicles to transport them from different coastal villages to Vijayawada.
- Inclusion of 19 sub-castes of fishermen community in the Scheduled Tribes list
- Provision of subsidy on engine oil for fibre boats
- Continuation of policy of increasing tax on tanks by 10 per cent every five years