Fishing boat owners from Maharashtra will receive a one-time cash compensation up to Rs 30,000. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and sustained losses to the fishing business in the last couple of years, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government on Wednesday handed out a special relief package to the community.
Under the package, licensed fishing boat owners will be entitled for a cash dole ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000, depending on type of boat and fishing. The government has also announced a one-time grant of Rs 3,000 to help fish sellers procure ice boxes.
Government statistics show that 76,345 households in the state are directly dependent on fishing, while another 9.93 lakh indirectly benefit from it. The government has contended that the relief package would benefit 54,573 households at a cost of Rs 65 crore to the state exchequer.
State Fisheries Minister Aslam Shaikh, who is from the Congress, said: “The government has tried to extend some relief to fishing community facing challenges due to mounting losses.”
Giving out details of the package, he said the state has 19,703 licensed fishing boats, including 18,009 mechanised and 1,564 non-mechanised ones. The government has announced a one-time help of Rs 10,000 each for traditional fishers who use drag net, Rs 20,000 each for fishing using non-mechanised and low-end mechanised boats that use one or two-cylinder engines. Three and four cylinder engine boats will get Rs 30,000 each, while high-powered (six cylinder engines or more) boats will receive Rs 40,000.
Of the 15,402 registered boats, records show that 7,671 or nearly 43 per cent fall in the high-powered category and would, therefore, stand to receive Rs 40,000. Another 48 per cent of boat owners (8,712) either own non-mechanised or low-end mechanised boats. They will be entitled to Rs 20,000 each. The government has anticipated 35,000 fish sellers to opt for relief for ice box procurement.
The Maharashtra Machimaar Kruti Samiti (MMKS), an apex representative body of all fishermen societies, had written to Thackeray, complaining that several fishing families were faced with a survival crisis.
While welcoming the announcement, MMKS general secretary Kiran Koli said there was a need to widen and enhance the package.
“The fishing sector is in a shambles. There has already been a significant dip in the catch due to increased water pollution, but repeated tropical cyclonic events, erratic rainfall pattern, choppy seas, and restrictions on venturing into the sea due to seismic surveys, terribly hit peak season fishing in 2019-20. The damage caused to boats during Cyclone Nisarga and lockdown has worsened matters,” he added.
The MMKS has been demanding that a state declared a “fishing drought” and hand out a Rs 1,000-crore package to the community, which the government has ruled out for now.
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