THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Union Government scheme to provide sea safety kits at subsidised rates to fishermen evoked a lukewarm response in the state.
The safety kit comprised a GPS device, emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and an echo sounder to measure the depth of the sea and locate shoals.
Sources at the Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC) said only 45 persons bought the equipment against a target of 600. The state stands to lose `8 crore funding if sufficient number of beneficiaries don’t turn up,they said.
The scheme is offered in two categories - for traditional craft and large mechanised boats. The safety kit for the traditional craft cost Rs one lakh and large boats, Rs 1.5 lakh. 25 per cent of the cost is beneficiary contribution in both cases. “We received around 2,000 applications, but only 45 persons bought the kit. Those opted out cited that the beneficiary component was unaffordable,’’ the officials said.
The Union Government fund to the tune of Rs 9.10 crore aims at providing kits to 600 persons. The first phase of the programme was to cater to 100 persons for which Rs one crore was sanctioned last year.
Worried over the Central funds going lapse, the KSCADC is planning to invite applications once again. Meanwhile, fishermen’s organisations have urged the government to bear a portion of the cost. In various states like Karnataka, the state government made a significant funding thereby minimising the beneficiary contribution, they said.