Fishermen from various organisations on Tuesday urged the Centre to remove the norm of providing 3 per cent diesel subsidy only to those belonging to the below poverty line families.

“None of the fishermen are covered under the scheme. It is a great injustice to our community.

We are incurring heavy losses in the absence of subsidy. We will be forced to launch an intensified agitation if this norm is not removed,” said Naveen Karkera from Purse Seine Boat Union.

The removal of the diesel subsidy condition was among the demands that the fishermen put forth during the protest meeting held at the fishing harbour. The meeting was part of the National Day of Protest called by the National Fishworkers' Forum.

Vasudev Boloor, general secretary of Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee, said diesel subsidy was for fishermen who went to deep sea for fishing. This was done by owners of deep sea trawlers, whose family income was more than Rs. 18,000 (the limit for one to qualify to be a BPL family). Hence none would get the benefit of this subsidy. The boat owners were incurring losses although they earned precious foreign exchange by exporting fish, he said. The only relief, he said, had been the exemption in the sales tax given by the State government.

Coastal Regulatory Zone

The fishermen said that the Centre was yet to consider amendments that they had suggested to the Coastal Regulatory Zone guidelines. Action had not been taken for inclusion of three fishermen representatives in the national and the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities. “Now the discussions were held on the issue of inclusion of our representatives in the district-level authority,” Mr. Boloor said. The fishermen said the State government and the Centre were not serious in preventing violations of CRZ norms. They said the government was soft on large industries that were polluting the sea.

Sashi Kumar mentioned the harm being caused because of plastics. Mr. Kumar said the big fishes were dying because of consumption of plastics. The government should strictly enforce the ban on use of plastics in the sea and along the coastline. “It's not only harming us but also the fish,” he said.

The fishermen expressed concerns over the poor state of 15 fishing harbours in the State, including those in Mangalore, Malpe, Honnavar, and Gangolli. The absence of dredging had been harming the lives of fishermen and hindering movement of boats.

They expressed their anguish over the poor conditions of the fish markets in the coastal region. They had asked the State government to take steps to modernise all the fish markets. The fishermen had asked the State government to implement a scheme to provide Rs. 1 lakh education loan for their children. They demanded inclusion of coastal and inland fishermen for loans at 1 per cent interest.

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