Fishermen under the aegis of the Matsya Thozhilali Aikyavedi has protested against what it called inadequate provisions in the State Budget 2012-13 for security, strengthening of the cooperatives and debt relief.

The budget is a big disappointment, said Charles George, president of the Aikyavedi, here on Tuesday.

He said that security for the fishermen had seen only an allocation of Rs.2 crore. This was not enough because the basic security kit for a fishing boat required about Rs.20,000 a unit. There are around 35,000 mechanised boats in operation in Kerala, he added.

Fishermen's organisations like the Aikyavedi had submitted comprehensive plans for the security of the fishermen. This included unified identity for all the fishing boats and use of latest technology.

The budget had set aside just Rs.3 crore for improving landings from inland fisheries. This was not enough for the sector, which needs a widespread effort to improve the marketing infrastructure. The budget mentions only 50 marketing centres having been identified for modernisation. Against this, there are 185 wholesale centres and 2,518 retail centres in the State. Most of these need better facilities, Mr. George said.

The budget also mentions just 10 harbours that will be modernised and it has allocated Rs.20 crore for the works. However, the Harbour Engineering Department had submitted a Rs.11.75-crore plan for the Vypeen harbour alone.

The harbours mentioned for improvement of facilities include Thalai, Chettuva, Muthalappozhi and Cheruvathoor.

Mr. George also called for strengthening of the cooperative sector for the welfare of the fisherfolk and for the revival of the fisheries sector. He alleged that the Debt Relief Commission's recommendations had not been taken seriously as there was a suicide by a fisherman early this year.

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