Rs. 229 crore allocated for fishermen welfare and subsidies

Though the outlay for fisheries has reduced marginally between budgets – from Rs. 231 crore in Jagadish Shettar’s February budget to Rs. 229 crore in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s Budget – welfare of fishermen and subsidies for boats have received a major boost this time.

To tackle the increasing overheads of mechanised fishing, the quantity of tax-free diesel for around 3,500 mechanised boats has been increased to 1.5 lakh kilolitres in this Friday’s Budget, up from 1.3 lakh kilolitres.

“This is is nearly 25 per cent more than the subsidy given last year…It’s a fantastic budget for fishermen. The focus on fishermen’s welfare scheme and of those owning boats will greatly help the sector,” said Loknath Bolar, vice president, Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee.

Similarly, the hike in kerosene oil allocation for traditional boats from 150 litres to 400 litres per month has met a “15-year demand”, said Mohan Bengre, a committee member at Karnataka Purse-seine Meenugarara Sangha.

Enhanced welfare schemes include a rise in subsidy amount under the Matsyashraya scheme for construction of houses to Rs. 1.2 lakh from Rs.60,000, and funds for Matsya Mahila Swavalambana Scheme (for self help groups) to Rs. 1 lakh.

Fishing infrastructure

Mr. Siddaramaiah announced feasibility studies for new fishing harbours at Gabithwadi Kheni and Majali in Uttara Kannada, and construction of harbours at Kulai on the outskirts of Mangalore and Hejmadikodi in Udupi district. Other announcements include extension of Bhatkala and Karwar harbours; coastal protection walls and dredging in Udupi and Karwar districts; and Rs.2 crore for construction of net mending sheds.

“These fishing harbours are important for Dakshina Kannada as fishermen are getting sidelined at the New Mangalore Port Trust,” said Mr. Bengre. However, he expressed disappointment that dredging at Alive Bagilu, the mouth of Netravati, had not been announced.

The budget allocates Rs. 30 crore for roads near harbours, envisaging a Project Implementation Cell to take up coastal civil works for fishing harbours. The move was welcomed by the unions. To encourage sustainable fishing in inland water resources, the Chief Minister assured revision of the 2006 regulations of fishing rights. Rs. 2 crore was allotted to raise fish stock at 82 reservoirs and 2,000 fibreglass coracles were announced.

College to be spruced up

With the budget allocating Rs. 4 crore to the 44-year-old Fisheries College here, K. M. Shankar, Dean of the college, said the money would be used to rectify the “bad infrastructure”. “Though the allocation is less than Rs. 10 crore demanded, we are happy the government has taken note of the research and development projects in the college,” he said.

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