Around 11,000 fishermen including those from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are stranded in Veraval and Mangrol fishing harbours in Gir Somnath and Junagadh coastal districts of Gujarat due to the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, official sources said.
“As of today there are 4,000 fishermen from other states at Veraval harbour. Of these 2,700 are mostly from Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and the remaining are from Palghar and nearby areas of Maharashtra,” Ajay Prakash, Gir Somnath District Collector, told The Indian Express.
Those who are stranded were were part of a larger group of 8,000-odd fishermen who arrived at the Veraval fishing harbour between March 18-28. The other fishermen were largely from Valsad district of South Gujarat and had left to their homes about a week back.
The remaining fishermen from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have been demanding that they are allowed to return to their native places, the district collector said adding that they will have to remain in the state till the lockdown ends.
The fishermen from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh who usually come to fish off Gujarat coast had landed in Veraval in March — unaware of the lockdown — to sell their catch. Veraval is one of the biggest export zones for marine products.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani spoke to his counterpart in Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy after the latter called. “The Andhra Pradesh CM had called Rupani to discuss about the Andhra fishermen at Veraval. CM Rupani has assured that the district administration is taking care of their food and shelter,” said Ashwini Kumar, Secretary to the Chief Minister told mediapersons in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
“At the port, we have arranged for the daily rations, drinking water and we have also done three rounds of health check ups,” Prakash said.
The Assistant Director of Fisheries have been appointed as the nodal officer to take care of the needs of these fishermen. The district collector further said that these stranded fishermen are also not allowed to fish as they are not registered in Veraval.
However, the Secretary to the Chief Minister, said,” As the fishermen in Gujarat have been allowed to venture into the sea, those from Andhra can also go into the sea for fishing.”
About 500 fishing tokens were issued by the assistant director of fisheries to the local fishermen in Veraval after the state government lifted the restrictions on fishing. In addition to these 4,000 fishermen, around 7,000 fishermen from other states and districts of Gujarat are living at Mangrol port, about 40 kilometres away from Veraval in the neighbouring Junagadh district.
“We have not segregated the fishermen from outside the states, but there are 7000 of them sheltered in the port area of Mangrol. This includes those from Valsad, Vapi (both in Gujarat), Daman, Diu, Maharashtra and some from Andhra,” said Junagadh District Collector Dr Sourabh Pardhi.
He, however, said that a number of these fishermen including from other states have been allowed to fish.
Pardhi also denied reports that a few fishermen from Maharashtra have managed to leave from Mangrol and reach their homes amid the lockdown.
“They would have left early before the lockdown,” he said.
The 7,000 fishermen are currently living on the boats and in port areas of Mangrol, where the state government has also posted medical teams.
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